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Long-term exposure to primary traffic pollutants and lung function in children: Cross-sectional study and meta-analysis

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Francesco Barone-Adesi, Jennifer E. Dent, David Dajnak, Sean Beevers, H. Ross Anderson, Frank J. Kelly, Derek G. Cook, Peter H. Whincup

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0142565
JournalPL o S One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2015


King's Authors


Background There is widespread concern about the possible health effects of traffic-related air pollution. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a convenient marker of primary pollution. We investigated the associations between lung function and current residential exposure to a range of air pollutants (particularly NO2, NO, NOx and particulate matter) in London children. Moreover, we placed the results for NO2 in context with a meta-analysis of published estimates of the association. Methods and Findings Associations between primary traffic pollutants and lung function were investigated in 4884 children aged 9-10 years who participated in the Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE). A systematic literature search identified 13 studies eligible for inclusion in a meta-analysis. We combined results from the meta-analysis with the distribution of the values of FEV1 in CHASE to estimate the prevalence of children with abnormal lung function (FEV12 exposure. In CHASE, there were non-significant inverse associations between all pollutants except ozone and both FEV1 and FVC. In the meta-analysis, a 10 μg/m3 increase in NO2 was associated with an 8 ml lower FEV1 (95% CI: -14 to -1 ml; p: 0.016). The observed effect was not modified by a reported asthma diagnosis. On the basis of these results, a 10 μg/m3 increase in NO2 level would translate into a 7% (95% CI: 4% to 12%) increase of the prevalence of children with abnormal lung function. Conclusions Exposure to traffic pollution may cause a small overall reduction in lung function and increase the prevalence of children with clinically relevant declines in lung function.

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