Background: Latex antigens have been found in urban air samples and in debris deposited near freeways.
Objective: We investigated whether exposure to road traffic in a large city is associated with allergic sensitization against latex in children.
Methods: A population-based sample of 2505 children aged 5 to 11 years was examined in a cross-sectional study in the city of Dresden, Germany. Specific IgE levels against latex and a panel of common aeroallergens (timothy grass, rye, birch, mugwort, Cladosporium herbarum, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, cat dander, and dog dander) was determined by using a fluorescence immunoassay (CAP Pharmacia). Traffic exposure was assessed by (1) parental self-report on traffic frequency and truck traffic in the street of residence, (2) traffic counts, and (3) measurements of benzene at 182 points on a 1-km(2) grid for 1 year, which were used to estimate the children's individual exposure at the home address.
Results: Eight hundred fifty-four (34.1%) of the children were sensitized against any of the allergens, and 150 (6.0%) had specific IgE (>0.35 kU/L) against latex. The prevalence of latex sensitization was not positively associated with self-reported traffic exposure, traffic counts in the street of residence (adjusted prevalence odds ratio for >5000 vs < or =5000 cars/d, 0.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.4-1.3), or benzene exposure (adjusted prevalence odds ratio for an increase of 1 microg/m(3) air, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.7-1.05).
Conclusion: The data suggest that exposure to road traffic is not associated with allergic sensitization to latex in children.