Increased asthma and respiratory symptoms in children exposed to petrochemical pollution.
Instituto del Desarrollo de Investigaciones Pediátricas (IDIP) Prof Dr Fernando Viteri Hospital de Niños SM Ludovica, La Plata, Argentina.
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 FEV(1) 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.
PMID: 19111332 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]