Air pollution and exacerbation of asthma in African-American children in Los Angeles

Epidemiology. 2001 Mar;12(2):200-8. doi: 10.1097/00001648-200103000-00012.


Significant increases in asthma morbidity and mortality in the United States have occurred since the 1970s, particularly among African-Americans. Exposure to various environmental factors, including air pollutants and allergens, has been suggested as a partial explanation of these trends. To examine relations between several air pollutants and asthma exacerbation in African-Americans, we recruited a panel of 138 children in central Los Angeles. We recorded daily data on respiratory symptoms and medication use for 13 weeks and examined these data in conjunction with data on ozone (O3) nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), meteorological variables, pollens, and molds. Using generalized estimating equations, we found associations between respiratory symptom occurrence and several environmental factors. For example, new episodes of cough were associated with exposure to PM10 (OR = 1.25; 95% CI = 1.12-1.39; interquartile range [IQR] = 17 microg/m3, 24-hour average), PM2.5 (OR = 1.10; 95% CI = 1.03-1.18; IQR = 30 microg/m3, 12-hour average), NO2, and the molds Cladosporium and Alternaria, but not with exposure to O3 or pollen. The factors PM10 and O3 were associated with the use of extra asthma medication. For this population several bioaerosols and air pollutants had effects that may be clinically significant.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Black People*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / adverse effects
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis
  • Ozone / adverse effects
  • Ozone / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Ozone