A study of twelve Southern California communities with differing levels and types of air pollution. I. Prevalence of respiratory morbidity

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Mar;159(3):760-7. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.159.3.9804143.


To study possible chronic respiratory effects of air pollutants, we initiated a 10-yr prospective cohort study of Southern California children, with a study design focused on four pollutants: ozone, particulate matter, acids, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Twelve demographically similar communities were selected on the basis of historic monitoring information to represent extremes of exposure to one or more pollutants. In each community, about 150 public school students in grade 4, 75 in grade 7, and 75 in grade 10 were enrolled through their classrooms. Informed consent and written responses to surveys about students' lifetime residential histories, historic and current health status, residential characteristics, and physical activity were obtained with the help of the parents. In the first testing season, 3,676 students returned questionnaires. We confirmed associations previously reported between respiratory morbidity prevalence and the presence of personal, demographic, and residential risk factors. Rates of respiratory illness were higher for males, those living in houses with pets, pests, mildew, and water damage, those whose parents had asthma, and those living in houses with smokers. Wheeze prevalence was positively associated with levels of both acid (odds ratio [OR] = 1.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-1.83) and NO2 (OR = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.08-2.19) in boys. We conclude, based on this cross-sectional assessment of questionnaire responses, that current levels of ambient air pollution in Southern California may be associated with effects on schoolchildren's respiratory morbidity as assessed by questionnaire.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acids / adverse effects
  • Acids / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology
  • Bronchitis / etiology
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cough / epidemiology
  • Cough / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Ozone / adverse effects
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Acids
  • Air Pollutants
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen Dioxide