Passive smoking, air pollution, and acute respiratory symptoms in a diary study of student nurses

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1990 Jan;141(1):62-7. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/141.1.62.


A cohort of approximately 100 student nurses in Los Angeles was recruited for a diary study of the acute effects of air pollution. Smoking histories and presence of asthma and other allergies were determined by questionnaire. Diaries were completed daily and collected weekly for as long as 3 yr. Air pollution was measured at a monitoring location within 2.5 miles of the school. Incidence and duration of a symptom were modeled separately. Pack-years of cigarettes were predictive of the number of episodes of coughing (p less than 0.0001) and of bringing up phlegm (p less than 0.0001). Current smoking, rather than cumulative smoking, was a better predictor of the duration of a phlegm episode (p less than 0.0001). Controlling for personal smoking, a smoking roommate increased the risk of an episode of phlegm (odds ratio [OR] = 1.41, p less than 0.001), but not of cough. Excluding asthmatics (who may be medicated), increased the odds ratio for passive smoking to 1.76 (p less than 0.0001). In logistic regression models controlling for temperature and serial correlation between days, an increase of 1 SD in carbon monoxide exposure (6.5 ppm) was associated with increased risk of headache (OR = 1.09, p less than 0.001), photochemical oxidants (7.4 pphm) were associated with increased risk of chest discomfort (OR = 1.17, p less than 0.001) and eye irritation (OR = 1.20 p less than 0.001), and nitrogen dioxide (9.1 pphm) was associated with increased risk of phlegm (OR = 1.08 p less than 0.01), sore throats (OR = 1.26, p less than 0.001), and eye irritation (OR = 1.16, p less than 0.001).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution