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Indoor Air. 2006 Dec;16(6):454-64.

Current asthma and respiratory symptoms among pupils in Shanghai, China: influence of building ventilation, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and formaldehyde in classrooms.

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Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University and University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


We investigated 10 naturally ventilated schools in Shanghai, in winter. Pupils (13-14 years) in 30 classes received a questionnaire, 1414 participated (99%). Classroom temperatures were 13-21 degrees C (mean 17 degrees C), relative air humidity was 36-82% (mean 56%). The air exchange rate was 2.9-29.4 ac/h (mean 9.1), because of window opening. Mean CO2 exceeded 1000 ppm in 45% of the classrooms. NO2 levels were 33-85 microg/m3 indoors, and 45-80 microg/m3 outdoors. Ozone were 1-9 microg/m3 indoors and 17-28 microg/m3 outdoors. In total, 8.9% had doctors' diagnosed asthma, 3.1% wheeze, 23.0% daytime breathlessness, 2.4% current asthma, and 2.3% asthma medication. Multiple logistic regression was applied. Observed indoor molds was associated with asthma attacks [odds ratio (OR) = 2.40: P < 0.05]. Indoor temperature was associated with daytime breathlessness (OR = 1.26 for 1 C; P < 0.001), and indoor CO2 with current asthma (OR = 1.18 for 100 ppm; P < 0.01) and asthma medication (OR = 1.15 for 100 ppm; P < 0.05). Indoor NO2 was associated with current asthma (OR = 1.51 for 10 microg/m3; P < 0.01) and asthma medication (OR = 1.45 for 10 microg/m3; P < 0.01). Outdoor NO2 was associated with current asthma (OR = 1.44 for 10 microg/m3; P < 0.05). Indoor and outdoor ozone was negatively associated with daytime breathlessness. In conclusion, asthma symptoms among pupils in Shanghai can be influenced by lack of ventilation and outdoor air pollution from traffic. Practical Implications Most urban schools in Asia are naturally ventilated buildings, often situated in areas with heavy ambient air pollution from industry or traffic. The classes are large, and window opening is the only way to remove indoor pollutants, but this results in increased exposure to outdoor air pollution. There is a clear need to improve the indoor environment in these schools. Building dampness and indoor mold growth should be avoided, and the concept of mechanical ventilation should be introduced. City planning aiming to situate new schools away from roads with heavy traffic should be considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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