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Eur Respir J. 1997 Apr;10(4):872-9.

Short-term effects of particulate air pollution on respiratory morbidity in asthmatic children.

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GSF-Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit, Institut für Epidemiologie, Neuherberg, Germany.


Short-term effects of air pollution (consisting primarily of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter but with low acidity) on respiratory morbidity were studied in asthmatic children from Sokolov, Czech Republic. Eighty nine children with asthma, who recorded daily peak expiratory flow measurements, symptoms and medication use in a diary, were analysed for 7 months during the winter of 1991-1992. Air pollution measurements included: SO2, total suspended particulates (TSPs), inhalable particles, ie. particulate matter of aerodynamic diameter < or = 10 microm, particle strong acidity (PSA) and fine particle sulphate concentration (SO4). Linear and logistic regression analyses estimated the impact of air pollutants adjusted for trend, temperature and weekend and autocorrelated errors. Exposure to elevated levels of air pollution was associated with decreased peak expiratory flow rates, increased respiratory symptoms, increased prevalence of school absence and fever, and increased medication use. Prolonged exposure to particle SO4 showed the largest effect estimates. At the end of January, an air pollution episode occurred, during which respiratory symptoms, prevalence of fever, school absence and asthma medication increased. The association between respiratory symptoms and particulate SO4 was highly dependent on this episode, whilst the associations between lung function and SO4 as well as between fever and SO4 were still observed when this air pollution episode was excluded. Some evidence was found that exposure to air pollution might have enhanced the respiratory symptoms while children were experiencing respiratory infections. In this study, a panel of children with mild asthma experienced small decreases in peak expiratory flow and increased dyspnoea in association with fine particles formed during air pollution episodes.

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