A study of twelve Southern California communities with differing levels and types of air pollution. II. Effects on pulmonary function

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Mar;159(3):768-75. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.159.3.9804144.


To study the possible chronic respiratory effects of air pollutants, we designed and initiated a 10-yr prospective study of Southern California public schoolchildren living in 12 communities with different levels and profiles of air pollution. The design of the study, exposure assessment methods, and survey methods and results related to respiratory symptoms and conditions are described in the accompanying paper. Pulmonary function tests were completed on 3,293 subjects. We evaluated cross-sectionally the effects of air pollution exposures based on data collected in 1986-1990 by existing monitoring stations and data collected by our study team in 1994. Expected relationships were seen between demographic, physical, and other environmental factors and pulmonary function values. When the data were stratified by sex, an association was seen between pollution levels and lower pulmonary function in female subjects, with the associations being stronger for the 1994 exposure data than the 1986-1990 data. After adjustment, PM10, PM2.5, and NO2 were each significantly associated with lower FVC, FEV1, and maximal midexpiratory flow (MMEF); acid vapor with lower FVC, FEV1, peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), and MMEF; and O3 with lower PEFR and MMEF. Effects were generally larger in those girls spending more time outdoors. Stepwise regression of adjusted pulmonary function values for girls in the 12 communities showed that NO2 was most strongly associated with lower FVC (r = -0.74, p < 0.01), PM2.5 with FEV1 (r = -0.72, p < 0.01), O3 with PEFR (r = -0.75, p < 0.005), and PM2.5 with MMEF (r = -0.80, p < 0.005). There was a statistically significant association between ozone exposure and decreased FVC and FEV1 in girls with asthma. For boys, significant associations were seen between peak O3 exposures and lower FVC and FEV1, but only in those spending more time outdoors. These findings underline the importance of follow-up of this cohort.

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
  • California
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nitric Oxide / adverse effects
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis
  • Ozone / adverse effects
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Mechanics*
  • Vital Capacity


  • Acids
  • Air Pollutants
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Ozone