Understanding the impact on human health during peak episodes in air pollution is invaluable for policymakers. Particles less than PM2.5 can penetrate the respiratory system, causing cardiopulmonary and other systemic diseases. Statistical regression models are usually used to assess air pollution impacts on human health. However, when there are databases missing, linear statistical regression may not process well and alternative data processing should be considered. Nonlinear Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) are not employed to research environmental health pollution even though another advantage in using ANN is that the output data can be expressed as the number of hospital admissions. This research applied ANN to assess the impact of air pollution on human health. Three well-known ANN were tested: Multilayer Perceptron (MLP), Extreme Learning Machines (ELM) and Echo State Networks (ESN), to assess the influence of PM2.5, temperature, and relative humidity on hospital admissions due to respiratory diseases. Daily PM2.5 levels were monitored, and hospital admissions for respiratory illness were obtained, from the Brazilian hospital information system for all ages during two sampling campaigns (2008–2011 and 2014–2015) in Curitiba, Brazil. During these periods, the daily number of hospital admissions ranged from 2 to 55, PM2.5 concentrations varied from 0.98 to 54.2 μg m−3, temperature ranged from 8 to 26 °C, and relative humidity ranged from 45 to 100%. Of the ANN used in this study, MLP gave the best results showing a significant influence of PM2.5, temperature and humidity on hospital attendance after one day of exposure. The Anova Friedman's test showed statistical difference between the appliance of each ANN model (p < .001) for 1 lag day between PM2.5 exposure and hospital admission. ANN could be a more sensitive method than statistical regression models for assessing the effects of air pollution on respiratory health, and especially useful when there is limited data available.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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