Short-term ozone exposure and asthma severity: Weight-of-evidence analysis

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Abstract

To determine whether evidence indicates that short-term exposure to ambient concentrations of ozone in the United States can affect asthma severity, we systematically reviewed published controlled human exposure, epidemiology, and animal toxicity studies. The strongest evidence for a potential causal relationship came from epidemiology studies reporting increased emergency department visits and hospital admissions for asthma following elevated ambient ozone concentrations. However, while controlled exposure studies reported lung function decrements and increased asthma symptoms following high ozone exposures 160–400 parts per billion [ppb]), epidemiology studies evaluating similar outcomes reported less consistent results. Animal studies showed changes in pulmonary function at high ozone concentrations (> 500 ppb), although there is substantial uncertainty regarding the relevance of these animal models to human asthma. Taken together, the weight of evidence indicates that there is at least an equal likelihood that either explanation is true, i.e., the strength of the evidence for a causal relationship between short-term exposure to ambient ozone concentrations and asthma severity is "equipoise and above."

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