Outdoor exposure to airborne polycyclic organic matter and adverse reproductive outcomes: a pilot study

Am J Ind Med. 2001 Sep;40(3):255-62. doi: 10.1002/ajim.1096.


Background: To investigate the association between outdoor airborne polycyclic organic matter (POM) and adverse reproductive outcomes in New Jersey, we used a cross-sectional design combining air quality data from the USA EPA Cumulative Exposure Project and individual data on pregnancy outcomes from birth and fetal death certificates at the census tract level.

Methods: After excluding plural births and chromosomal anomalies, 221,406 live births and 1,591 fetal deaths registered in New Jersey during the years of 1990 and 1991 were included. The exposure estimates were derived from modeled average POM concentrations for each census tract in the state.

Results: After adjustment for potential confounders, the odds ratios (OR) for very low birth weight for the highest exposure compared to the lowest exposure group was 1.31 (95% CI 1.15-1.51); among term births, high POM exposure was associated with low birth weight OR = 1.31 (95% CI 1.21-1.43), with fetal death OR = 1.19 (95% CI 1.02-1.39) and with premature birth OR = 1.25 (95% CI 1.19-1.31). The univariate stratified analyses suggested effect modification of all observed associations by maternal alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: This study found associations between outdoor exposure to modeled average airborne POM and several adverse pregnancy outcomes. The data and methods utilized in this pilot study may be useful for identifying hazardous air pollutants requiring in-depth investigation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polycyclic Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Compounds