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Rev Saude Publica. 2009 Feb;43(1):26-34.

Effect of air pollution on lung function in schoolchildren in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

[Article in English, Portuguese]

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Centro de Estudos de Saúde do Trabalhador e Ecologia Humana, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil.



To assess the association between daily exposure to air pollution and lung function in school children.


Panel study with a random sample of 118 students (between 6 and 15 years of age), enrolled in a public school of the city of Rio de Janeiro, state of Rio de Janeiro, and living within 2 km of the study site. Data on students' characteristics were obtained with a questionnaire, including the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood - ISAAC. Daily peak expiratory flow measurements were taken to measure lung function. Daily data on PM10, SO2, O3, NO2 and CO levels, temperature and humidity were provided by a portable monitor. Repeated measurements of lung function were associated with pollutant levels with a multilevel model adjusted for time trend, temperature, air humidity, exposure to smoking at home, presence of asthma, height, sex, weight and age of children.


Mean peak expiratory flow was 243.5 l/m (sd=58.9). The lowest mean peak expiratory flow was 124 l/m, and the highest, 450 l/m. For the 10 microg/m(3) increase in PM10, there was a 0.34 l/min decrease in mean peak flow on the third day. For the 10 microg/m(3) increase in NO2, there was a decrease between 0.23 l/min and 0.28 l/min in mean peak flow after exposure. CO and SO2 effects on students' peak flow were not statistically significant. O3 showed a protective result: an increase in 10 microg/m(3) of O3 would be associated, after a day of exposure, with a 0.2 l/min increase in mean lung function.


Even within acceptable levels most of the time, air pollution, especially PM10 and NO2, was associated with a decrease in lung function in children living in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

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