Deakin University

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Increased asthma and respiratory symptoms in children exposed to petrochemical pollution

journal contribution
posted on 2009-03-01, 00:00 authored by F A Wichmann, A Müller, L E Busi, N Cianni, L Massolo, U Schlink, A Porta, Peter Sly
Background: Epidemiologic studies show statistical associations between levels of air pollutants and respiratory outcomes. Objective: We sought to determine the effects of exposure to petrochemical pollution on the respiratory health of children. Methods: Children aged 6 to 12 years living close to the petrochemical plants in La Plata, Argentina (n = 282), were compared with those living in a region with exposure to heavy traffic (n = 270) or in 2 relatively nonpolluted areas (n = 639). Parents answered a validated questionnaire providing health and demographic data. A random sample (n = 181) had lung function measured. Particulate matter and outdoor and indoor volatile organic compound levels were measured during 4-week study periods and reported as overall means for each study area. Results: Children living near the petrochemical plant had more asthma (24.8% vs 10.1% to 11.5%), more asthma exacerbations (6.7 vs 2.9-3.6 per year), more respiratory symptoms (current wheeze, dyspnea, nocturnal cough, and rhinitis), and lower lung function (>13% decrease in FEV1 percent predicted) than those living in other regions. Length of residence in the area was a significant risk factor, but age, sex, body mass index, proximity to busy roads and other nonpetrochemical industries, length of breast-feeding, and socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of children or their families were not. Conclusion: Exposure to particulate matter and volatile organic compounds arising from petrochemical plants but not from high traffic density was associated ith worse respiratory health in children. © 2009 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.



Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology






632 - 638