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J Epidemiol. 2003 Mar;13(2):108-19.

Traffic-related air pollution and respiratory symptoms in children living along trunk roads in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

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Department of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Japan.


Automobile exhaust is considered to be a potential risk factor for respiratory diseases. To investigate the effects of traffic-related air pollution on respiratory symptoms among children who lived near trunk roads, we conducted a cohort study on 2,506 schoolchildren in eight different communities in Japan. Over that four-year period, the prevalence of asthma was higher among girls who lived less than 50 m from trunk roads (roadside areas) than among girls in the other areas studied. Testing for trends showed that the prevalence of asthma among girls increased significantly with increases in the concentration of air pollution in each area. Among boys, the prevalence of asthma did not differ in relation to the distance from roads, although the rate was higher in urban areas than in rural areas. The incidence of asthma during the follow-up period significantly increased among boys living in roadside areas relative to rural areas (odds ratio = 3.75; 95% confidence interval: 1.00-14.06). Among girls, the incidence of asthma also increased (odds ratio = 4.06; 95% confidence interval:0.91-18.10), although the risk was not significant. These findings suggest that traffic-related air pollution may be of particular importance in the development of asthma among children living near major trunk roads with heavy traffic.

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