Traffic-related air pollution near busy roads: the East Bay Children's Respiratory Health Study

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Sep 1;170(5):520-6. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200403-281OC. Epub 2004 Jun 7.


Recent studies, primarily in Europe, have reported associations between respiratory symptoms and residential proximity to traffic; however, few have measured traffic pollutants or provided information about local air quality. We conducted a school-based, cross-sectional study in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2001. Information on current bronchitis symptoms and asthma, home environment, and demographics was obtained by parental questionnaire (n = 1,109). Concentrations of traffic pollutants (particulate matter, black carbon, total nitrogen oxides [NO(X)], and nitrogen dioxide [NO(2)]) were measured at 10 school sites during several seasons. Although pollutant concentrations were relatively low, we observed differences in concentrations between schools nearby versus those more distant (or upwind) from major roads. Using a two-stage multiple-logistic regression model, we found associations between respiratory symptoms and traffic-related pollutants. Among those living at their current residence for at least 1 year, the adjusted odds ratio for asthma in relationship to an interquartile difference in NO(X) was 1.07 (95% confidence interval, 1.00-1.14). Thus, we found spatial variability in traffic pollutants and associated differences in respiratory symptoms in a region with good air quality. Our findings support the hypothesis that traffic-related pollution is associated with respiratory symptoms in children.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Bronchitis / etiology*
  • Carbon / adverse effects
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrogen Oxides / adverse effects
  • Nitrogen Oxides / analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • San Francisco
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health
  • Vehicle Emissions / adverse effects*
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Carbon