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Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Mar 1;153(5):433-43.

Air pollution from traffic at the residence of children with cancer.

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Danish Cancer Society, Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Strandboulevarden 49, DK-2100 Copenhagen 0, Denmark.


The hypothesis that exposure to traffic-related air pollution increases the risk of developing cancer during childhood was investigated. The authors enrolled 1,989 children reported to the Danish Cancer Registry with a diagnosis of leukemia, tumor of the central nervous system, or malignant lymphoma during 1968-1991 and 5,506 control children selected at random from the entire childhood population. The residential histories of the children were traced from 9 months before birth until the time of diagnosis of the cases and a similar period for the controls. For each of the 18,440 identified addresses, information on traffic and the configuration of streets and buildings was collected. Average concentrations of benzene and nitrogen dioxide (indicators of traffic-related air pollution) were calculated for the relevant period, and exposures to air pollution during pregnancy and during childhood were calculated separately. The risks of leukemia, central nervous system tumors, and all selected cancers combined were not linked to exposure to benzene or nitrogen dioxide during either period. The risk of lymphomas increased by 25% (p for trend = 0.06) and 51% (p for trend = 0.05) for a doubling of the concentration of benzene and nitrogen dioxide, respectively, during the pregnancy. The association was restricted to Hodgkin's disease.

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