Background: The effect of indoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations on asthma morbidity among inner-city preschool children is uncertain.
Objectives: Our goal was to estimate the effect of indoor NO2 concentrations on asthma morbidity in an inner-city population while adjusting for other indoor pollutants.
Methods: We recruited 150 children (2-6 years of age) with physician-diagnosed asthma from inner-city Baltimore, Maryland. Indoor air was monitored over a 72-hr period in the children's bedrooms at baseline and 3 and 6 months. At each visit, the child's caregiver completed a questionnaire assessing asthma symptoms over the previous 2 weeks and recent health care utilization.
Results: Children were 58% male, 91% African American, and 42% from households with annual income < $25,000; 63% had persistent asthma symptoms. The mean (+/- SD) in-home NO2 concentration was 30.0 +/- 33.7 (range, 2.9-394.0) ppb. The presence of a gas stove and the use of a space heater or oven/stove for heat were independently associated with higher NO2 concentrations. Each 20-ppb increase in NO2 exposure was associated significantly with an increase in the number of days with limited speech [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.15; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.05-1.25], cough (IRR = 1.10; 95% CI, 1.02-1.18), and nocturnal symptoms (IRR = 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02-1.16), after adjustment for potential confounders. NO2 concentrations were not associated with increased health care utilization.
Conclusions: Higher indoor NO2 concentrations were associated with increased asthma symptoms in preschool inner-city children. Interventions aimed at lowering NO2 concentrations in inner-city homes may reduce asthma morbidity in this vulnerable population.
Keywords: asthma; indoor pollutants; inner city; nitrogen dioxide; preschool.