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Eur Respir J. 2012 Sep;40(3):538-47. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00002611. Epub 2012 Apr 20.

PM10, and children's respiratory symptoms and lung function in the PATY study.

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Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, University of Utrecht, PO Box 80178, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Studies of the impact of long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution on the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and lung function in children have yielded mixed results, partly related to differences in study design, exposure assessment, confounder selection and data analysis. We assembled respiratory health and exposure data for >45,000 children from comparable cross-sectional studies in 12 countries. 11 respiratory symptoms were selected, for which comparable questions were asked. Spirometry was performed in about half of the children. Exposure to air pollution was mainly characterised by annual average concentrations of particulate matter with a 50% cut-off aerodynamic diameter of 10 μm (PM(10)) measured at fixed sites within the study areas. Positive associations were found between the average PM(10) concentration and the prevalence of phlegm (OR per 10 μg · m(-3) 1.15, 95% CI 1.02-1.30), hay fever (OR 1.20, 95% CI 0.99-1.46), bronchitis (OR 1.08, 95% CI 0.98-1.19), morning cough (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.02-1.29) and nocturnal cough (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.98-1.29). There were no associations with diagnosed asthma or asthma symptoms. PM(10) was not associated with lung function across all studies combined. Our study adds to the evidence that long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution, characterised by the concentration of PM(10), is associated with increased respiratory symptoms.

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