A longitudinal study of indoor nitrogen dioxide levels and respiratory symptoms in inner-city children with asthma

Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Oct;116(10):1428-32. doi: 10.1289/ehp.11349. Epub 2008 Jul 23.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor*
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Baltimore
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Urban Population*


  • Nitrogen Dioxide