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Household air pollution, chronic respiratory disease and pneumonia in Malawian adults: A case-control study

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  • Hannah R. Jary
  • Stephen Aston
  • Antonio Ho
  • Emanuele Giorgi
  • Newton Kalata
  • Mulinda Nyirenda
  • Jane Mallewa
  • Ingrid Peterson
  • Stephen B. Gordon
  • Kevin Mortimer
Article number103
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/10/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Wellcome Open Research
Number of pages15
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: Four million people die each year from diseases caused by exposure to household air pollution. There is an association between exposure to household air pollution and pneumonia in children (half a million attributable deaths a year); however, whether this is true in adults is unknown. We conducted a case-control study in urban Malawi to examine the association between exposure to household air pollution and pneumonia in adults. Methods: Hospitalized patients with radiologically confirmed pneumonia (cases) and healthy community controls underwent 48 hours of ambulatory and household particulate matter (µg/m3) and carbon monoxide (ppm) exposure monitoring. Multivariate logistic regression, stratified by HIV status, explored associations between these and other potential risk factors with pneumonia. Results: 145 (117 HIV-positive; 28 HIV-negative) cases and 253 (169 HIV-positive; 84 HIV-negative) controls completed follow up. We found no evidence of association between household air pollution exposure and pneumonia in HIV-positive (e.g. ambulatory particulate matter adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.00 [95% CI 1.00–1.01, p=0.141]) or HIV-negative (e.g. ambulatory particulate matter aOR 1.00 [95% CI 0.99–1.01, p=0.872]) participants. Chronic respiratory disease was associated with pneumonia in both HIV-positive (aOR 28.07 [95% CI 9.29–84.83, p<0.001]) and HIV-negative (aOR 104.27 [95% CI 12.86–852.35, p<0.001]) participants. Conclusions: We found no evidence that exposure to household air pollution is associated with pneumonia in Malawian adults. In contrast, chronic respiratory disease was strongly associated with pneumonia.