Air pollution and bronchitic symptoms in Southern California children with asthma

Rob McConnell, Kiros Berhane, Frank Gilliland, Stephanie J. London, Hita Vora, Edward Avol, W. James Gauderman, Helene G Margolis, Fred Lurmann, Duncan C. Thomas, John M. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


The association of air pollution with the prevalence of chronic lower respiratory tract symptoms among children with a history of asthma or related symptoms was examined in a cross-sectional study. Parents of a total of 3676 fourth, seventh, and tenth graders from classrooms in 12 communities in Southern California completed questionnaires that characterized the children's histories of respiratory illness and associated risk factors. The prevalences of bronchitis, chronic phlegm, and chronic cough were investigated among children with a history of asthma, wheeze without diagnosed asthma, and neither wheeze nor asthma. Average ambient annual exposure to ozone, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5; ≤ 10 μm and < 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter, respectively), acid vapor, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was estimated from monitoring stations in each community. Positive associations between air pollution and bronchitis and phlegm were observed only among children with asthma. As PM10 increased across communities, there was a corresponding increase in the risk per interquartile range of bronchitis [odds ratio (OR) 1.4/19 μg/m3; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.1-1.8). Increased prevalence of phlegm was significantly associated with increasing exposure to all ambient pollutants except ozone. The strongest association was for NO2, based on relative risk per interquartile range in the 12 communities (OR 2.7/24 ppb; CI, 1.4-5.3). The results suggest that children with a prior diagnosis of asthma are more likely to develop persistent lower respiratory tract symptoms when exposed to air pollution in Southern California.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-760
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Air pollution
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Children
  • Respiratory tract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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