Synopsis of Article

Asthma symptoms in Hispanic children and daily ambient exposures to toxic and criteria air pollutants.

Although acute adverse effects on asthma have been frequently found for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's principal criteria air pollutants, there is little epidemiologic information on specific hydrocarbons from toxic emission sources. We conducted a panel study of 22 Hispanic children with asthma who were 10-16 years old and living in a Los Angeles community with high traffic density. Subjects filled out symptom diaries daily for up to 3 months (November 1999 through January 2000). Pollutants included ambient hourly values of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide and 24-hr values of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter < 10 microm (PM10, and elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) PM10 fractions. Asthma symptom severity was regressed on pollutants using generalized estimating equations, and peak expiratory flow (PEF) was regressed on pollutants using mixed models. We found positive associations of symptoms with criteria air pollutants (O3, NO2, SO2, PM10), EC-OC, and VOCs (benzene, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, 1,3-butadiene, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, m,p-xylene, and o-xylene). Selected adjusted odds ratios for bothersome or more severe asthma symptoms from interquartile range increases in pollutants were, for 1.4 ppb 8-hr NO2, 1.27 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.05-1.54]; 1.00 ppb benzene, 1.23 (95% CI, 1.02-1.48); 3.16 ppb formaldehyde, 1.37 (95% CI, 1.04-1.80); 37 microg/m3 PM10, 1.45 (95% CI, 1.11-1.90); 2.91 microg/m3 EC, 1.85 (95% CI, 1.11-3.08); and 4.64 microg/m3 OC, 1.88 (95% CI, 1.12-3.17). Two-pollutant models of EC or OC with PM10 showed little change in odds ratios for EC (to 1.83) or OC (to 1.89), but PM10 decreased from 1.45 to 1.0. There were no significant associations with PEF. Findings support the view that air toxins in the pollutant mix from traffic and industrial sources may have adverse effects on asthma in children.

Delfino RJ, Gong H Jr, Linn WS, Pellizzari ED, Hu Y.
Epidemiology Division, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, California 92697-7550, USA.