Air pollution and respiratory illness of children in São Paulo, Brazil

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 1999 Oct;13(4):475-88. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3016.1999.00210.x.


This investigation reports the association between air pollution and paediatric respiratory emergency visits in São Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in South America. Daily records of emergency visits were obtained from the Children's Institute of the University of São Paulo for the period from May 1991 to April 1993. Visits were classified as respiratory and non-respiratory causes. Respiratory visits were further divided into three categories: upper respiratory illness, lower respiratory illness and wheezing. Daily records of SO2, CO, particulate matter (PM10), O3 and NO2 concentrations were obtained from the State Air Pollution Controlling Agency of São Paulo. Associations between respiratory emergency visits and air pollution were assessed by simple comparative statistics, simple correlation analysis and by estimating a variety of regression models. Significant associations between the increase of respiratory emergency visits and air pollution were observed. The most robust associations were observed with PM10, and to a lesser extent with O3. These associations were stable across different model specifications and several controlling variables. A significant increase in the counts of respiratory emergency visits--more than 20%--was observed on the most polluted days, indicating that air pollution is a substantial paediatric health concern in São Paulo.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Public Health
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Assessment