Traffic at residential address, respiratory health, and atopy in adults: the National German Health Survey 1998

Environ Res. 2005 Jun;98(2):240-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2004.08.004.


Motor vehicle traffic contributes to more than 50% of PM10 in Europe and might have far reaching impacts on human health. We investigated the relationship between residential street type as a surrogate for traffic intensity and the prevalence of respiratory symptoms, atopic diseases, and allergic sensitization in adults. Data from 6896 subjects of the German Health Survey 1998 with complete information on residential street type were used. Multiple logistic regression analyses were applied to model associations between street type categories, and respiratory and atopic outcomes were assessed by screening questionnaire of The European Respiratory Health Survey and specific IgE measurements. Living at extremely or considerably busy roads (23.9% of total study population) compared to roads with no or rare traffic (64.5%) was statistically significantly associated with chronic bronchitis (aOR 1.36 (95% CI) (1.01-1.83)) while nocturnal coughing attacks (past 12 months) (1.24 (0.98-1.57)), wheeze during the past 12 months (1.21 (0.93-57)), and hay fever (1.16 (0.94-1.42)) were marginally increased after adjustment for several potential confounders and for multiple testing. No increased risks were found for asthma (0.97 (0.67-1.42)) and allergic sensitization (1.05 (0.91-1.20)). We conclude that exposure to traffic-related air pollutants increases the risk of nonallergic respiratory symptoms and to a lesser degree the risk of hay fever and allergic sensitization but not the risk of asthma in adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Vehicle Emissions / adverse effects*
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions