Living near a main road and the risk of wheezing illness in children

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Dec 15;164(12):2177-80. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.164.12.2106126.


The effect of road vehicle traffic pollution on asthma is still not clearly understood. However, any effect is likely to be most marked among those who live within 150 m of a main road, because this is the distance within which concentrations of primary vehicle traffic pollutants are raised above ambient background levels. We have investigated the relation between proximity of the family home to the nearest main road, estimated objectively using geographical information system software, and the risk of wheeze in the past year in a case-control sample of 6,147 primary schoolchildren (age 4 to 11 yr) and a random cross-sectional sample of 3,709 secondary schoolchildren (age 11 to 16 yr) in Nottingham, United Kingdom. Among children living within 150 m of a main road, the risk of wheeze increased with increasing proximity by an odds ratio (OR) of 1.08 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.00 to 1.16) per 30-m increment in primary schoolchildren, and 1.16 (1.02 to 1.32) in secondary schoolchildren. Most of the increased risk was localized to within 90 m of the roadside. Among primary schoolchildren, effects were stronger in girls than boys (p(interaction) = 0.02). Living within approximately 90 m of a main road is associated with a proximity-related increase in the risk of wheezing illness in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vehicle Emissions / adverse effects*


  • Vehicle Emissions