The air quality index (AQI) is widely used to characterize the quality of ambient air. Chinese cities officially report the AQI on a daily basis. To assess the possible effects of air pollution on daily outpatient visits, we examined the association between AQI and the daily outpatient count.
Daily data on outpatient visits to each clinical department were collected from the Z county hospital of Datong City, China. The collection period was between 5 April and 30 June, 2012. Daily AQI data and meteorological information were simultaneously recorded. We compared outpatient counts between the index days and comparison days, and calculated Pearson’s product moment correlation coefficient between outpatient counts and AQI levels.
The average AQI level for index days was significantly higher than that for comparison days. No significant difference was observed in temperature or relative humidity between index days and comparison days. The outpatient counts for pediatrics were significantly higher on index days than on comparison days, and no significant difference was noted in other clinical departments. The outpatient counts for pediatrics positively correlated with the AQI level, and no correlation was noted in other clinical departments.