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      Personal Exposures to Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Acute Respiratory Health among Bronx Schoolchildren with Asthma


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          Previous studies have reported relationships between adverse respiratory health outcomes and residential proximity to traffic pollution, but have not shown this at a personal exposure level.


          We compared, among inner-city children with asthma, the associations of adverse asthma outcome incidences with increased personal exposure to particulate matter mass ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM 2.5) air pollution versus the diesel-related carbonaceous fraction of PM 2.5.


          Daily 24-hr personal samples of PM 2.5, including the elemental carbon (EC) fraction, were collected for 40 fifth-grade children with asthma at four South Bronx schools (10 children per school) during approximately 1 month each. Spirometry and symptom scores were recorded several times daily during weekdays.


          We found elevated same-day relative risks of wheeze [1.45; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.03–2.04)], shortness of breath (1.41; 95% CI, 1.01–1.99), and total symptoms (1.30; 95% CI, 1.04–1.62) with an increase in personal EC, but not with personal PM 2.5 mass. We found increased risk of cough, wheeze, and total symptoms with increased 1-day lag and 2-day average personal and school-site EC. We found no significant associations with school-site PM 2.5 mass or sulfur. The EC effect estimate was robust to addition of gaseous pollutants.


          Adverse health associations were strongest with personal measures of EC exposure, suggesting that the diesel “soot” fraction of PM 2.5 is most responsible for pollution-related asthma exacerbations among children living near roadways. Studies that rely on exposure to PM mass may underestimate PM health impacts.

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          Most cited references 45

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          Standardisation of spirometry

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            Traffic, Susceptibility, and Childhood Asthma

            Results from studies of traffic and childhood asthma have been inconsistent, but there has been little systematic evaluation of susceptible subgroups. In this study, we examined the relationship of local traffic-related exposure and asthma and wheeze in southern California school children (5–7 years of age). Lifetime history of doctor-diagnosed asthma and prevalent asthma and wheeze were evaluated by questionnaire. Parental history of asthma and child’s history of allergic symptoms, sex, and early-life exposure (residence at the same home since 2 years of age) were examined as susceptibility factors. Residential exposure was assessed by proximity to a major road and by modeling exposure to local traffic-related pollutants. Residence within 75 m of a major road was associated with an increased risk of lifetime asthma [odds ratio (OR) = 1.29; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01–1.86], prevalent asthma (OR = 1.50; 95% CI, 1.16–1.95), and wheeze (OR = 1.40; 95% CI, 1.09–1.78). Susceptibility increased in long-term residents with no parental history of asthma for lifetime asthma (OR = 1.85; 95% CI, 1.11–3.09), prevalent asthma (OR = 2.46; 95% CI, 0.48–4.09), and recent wheeze (OR = 2.74; 95% CI, 1.71–4.39). The higher risk of asthma near a major road decreased to background rates at 150–200 m from the road. In children with a parental history of asthma and in children moving to the residence after 2 years of age, there was no increased risk associated with exposure. Effect of residential proximity to roadways was also larger in girls. A similar pattern of effects was observed with traffic-modeled exposure. These results indicate that residence near a major road is associated with asthma. The reason for larger effects in those with no parental history of asthma merits further investigation.
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              Standardisation of spirometry


                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                April 2011
                7 January 2011
                : 119
                : 4
                : 559-565
                [1 ] Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Tuxedo, New York, USA
                [2 ] European Centre for Environment and Human Health, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, The Knowledge Spa, Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to G.D. Thurston, Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, 57 Old Forge Rd., Tuxedo, NY 10987-5007 USA. Telephone: (845) 731-3564. Fax: (845) 351-5472. E-mail: george.thurston@ 123456nyu.edu

                The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.

                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI.
                Children’s Health


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