Traffic-related particulate matter and acute respiratory symptoms among New York City area adolescents.

Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.26). 05/2010; 118(9):1338-43. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.0901499
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Exposure to traffic-related particulate matter (PM) has been associated with adverse respiratory health outcomes in children. Diesel exhaust particles (DEPs) are a local driver of urban fine PM [aerodynamic diameter < or = 2.5 microm (PM(2.5))]; however, evidence linking ambient DEP exposure to acute respiratory symptoms is relatively sparse, and susceptibilities of urban and asthmatic children are inadequately characterized.
We examined associations of daily ambient black carbon (BC) concentrations, a DEP indicator, with daily respiratory symptoms among asthmatic and nonasthmatic adolescents in New York City (NYC) and a nearby suburban community.
BC and PM(2.5) were monitored continuously outside three NYC high schools and one suburban high school for 4-6 weeks, and daily symptom data were obtained from 249 subjects (57 asthmatics, 192 nonasthmatics) using diaries. Associations between pollutants and symptoms were characterized using multilevel generalized linear mixed models, and modification by urban residence and asthma status were examined.
Increases in BC were associated with increased wheeze, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Multiple lags of nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) exposure were associated with symptoms. For several symptoms, associations with BC and NO(2) were significantly larger in magnitude among urban subjects and asthmatics compared with suburban subjects and nonasthmatics, respectively. PM(2.5) was not consistently associated with increases in symptoms.
Acute exposures to traffic-related pollutants such as DEPs and/or NO(2) may contribute to increased respiratory morbidity among adolescents, and urban residents and asthmatics may be at increased risk. The findings provide support for developing additional strategies to reduce diesel emissions further, especially in populations susceptible because of environment or underlying respiratory disease.

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