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Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Jun;109(6):567-71.

Consultations of children living near open-cast coal mines.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Statistics, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


Because of local concerns, general practitioner consultation rates in children living in communities close to and away from open-cast mines were compared. Information on consultations was collected on 2,442 children 1-11 years of age living in five socioeconomically matched pairs of open-cast and control communities in northern England. The data collection periods were 6 weeks each during 1996-1997 and the 52-week periods preceding these weeks. Consultations were categorized as respiratory, skin and eye conditions (possibly exacerbated by particulate matter), or other conditions. Over the 6-week periods, children in 4/5 pairs of open-cast and control communities had similar consultation rates for all conditions combined [2.7 vs. 2.4 per person-year; odds ratio (OR) = 1.1; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.96-1.3). Consultations were higher in the open-cast communities for respiratory, skin, and eye conditions (2.1 vs. 1.5 per person-year; OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.2-1.7), and respiratory conditions alone (1.5 vs. 1.1 per person-year; OR = 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-1.8). However, increases in consultation rates in open-cast communities were generally not seen over the portions of the 52-week periods when the open-cast sites were either active or inactive.

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