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Environ Health Perspect. 1996 May;104(5):506-14.

Health effects of acid aerosols on North American children: pulmonary function.

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Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


We examined the health effects of exposure to acidic air pollution among children living in 24 communities in the United States and Canada. Parents of children between the ages of 8 and 12 completed a self-administered questionnaire and provided consent for their child to perform a standardized forced expiratory maneuver at school in 22 of these communities. Air quality and meteorology were measured in each community for the year preceding the pulmonary function tests. Forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1.0) measurements of 10,251 white children were examined in a two-stage regression analysis that adjusted for age, sex, height, weight, and sex-height interaction. In this study, a 52 nmol/m3 difference in annual mean particle strong acidity was associated with a 3.5% (95% CI, 2.0-4.9) decrement in adjusted FVC and a 3.1% (95% CI, 1.6-4.6) decrement in adjusted FEV1.0. The FVC decrement was larger, although not significantly different, for children who were lifelong residents of their communities (4.1%, 95% CI, 2.5-5.8). The relative odds for low lung function (that is, measured FVC less than or equal to 85% of predicted), was 2.5 (95% CI, 1.8-3.6) across the range of particle strong acidity exposures. These data suggest that long-term exposure to ambient particle strong acidity may have a deleterious effect on lung growth, development, and function.

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