Home indoor pollutant exposures among inner-city children with and without asthma

Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Nov;115(11):1665-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.10088.


Background: Evidence for environmental causes of asthma is limited, especially among African Americans. To look for systematic differences in early life domestic exposures between inner-city preschool children with and without asthma, we performed a study of home indoor air pollutants and allergens.

Methods: Children 2-6 years of age were enrolled in a cohort study in East Baltimore, Maryland. From the child's bedroom, air was monitored for 3 days for particulate matter <or= 2.5 and <or= 10 microm in aerodynamic diameter (PM(2.5), PM(10)), nitrogen dioxide, and ozone. Median baseline values were compared for children with (n = 150) and without (n = 150) asthma. Housing characteristics related to indoor air pollution were assessed by caregiver report and home inspection. In addition, indoor allergen levels were measured in settled dust.

Results: Children were 58% male, 91% African American, and 88% with public health insurance. Housing characteristics related to pollutant exposure and bedroom air pollutant concentrations did not differ significantly between asthmatic and control subjects [median: PM(2.5), 28.7 vs. 28.5 microg/m(3); PM(10), 43.6 vs. 41.4 microg/m(3); NO(2), 21.6 vs. 20.9 ppb; O(3), 1.4 vs. 1.8 ppb; all p > 0.05]. Settled dust allergen levels (cat, dust mite, cockroach, dog, and mouse) were also similar in bedrooms of asthmatic and control children.

Conclusions: Exposures to common home indoor pollutants and allergens are similar for inner-city preschool children with and without asthma. Although these exposures may exacerbate existing asthma, this study does not support a causative role of these factors for risk of developing childhood asthma.

Keywords: African American; air pollution; allergens; asthma; particulate matter; pediatric; urban.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Baltimore
  • Cats
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dogs
  • Dust
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sulfuric Acids / adverse effects*
  • Urban Health
  • Urban Population*


  • Allergens
  • Dust
  • Sulfuric Acids
  • potassium peroxymonosulfuric acid
  • Nitrogen Dioxide