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J Public Health Policy. 2009 Jul;30(2):144-57. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2009.5.

Assessing lung function and respiratory health in schoolchildren as a means to improve local environmental conditions.

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  • 1Institute of Environmental Health, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Kinderspitalgasse 15, A-1095 Vienna, Austria.


In response to the World Health Organization Children's Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE), a town near Vienna initiated a health survey of schoolchildren. To create recommendations for the community's decision makers, the health survey tried to identify the environmental factors influencing the respiratory health of children. The survey consisted of a questionnaire and spirometry. For 186 of 207 children of first and second grade, parents consented to include their children and answered a questionnaire. Spirometry was performed in 177 children. Results of lung function testing revealed that lung function was significantly reduced in children with visible mould infestation at home and living on a street with frequent lorry traffic. Larger family size and living in a rural area had positive effects on lung function. Our study provides an example for a feasible strategy to provide local decision makers with recommendations based on scientific evidence and actual observations and to help them implement measures in accordance with CEHAPE.

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