Health impact of air pollution to children

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2013 Aug;216(5):533-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Jan 10.


Health impact of air pollution to children was studied over the last twenty years in heavily polluted parts of the Czech Republic during. The research program (Teplice Program) analyzed these effects in the polluted district Teplice (North Bohemia) and control district Prachatice (Southern Bohemia). Study of pregnancy outcomes for newborns delivered between 1994 and 1998 demonstrated that increase in intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) was associated with PM10 and c-PAHs exposure (carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in the first month of gestation. Morbidity was followed in the cohort of newborns (N=1492) up to the age of 10years. Coal combustion in homes was associated with increased incidence of lower respiratory track illness and impaired early childhood skeletal growth up to the age of 3years. In preschool children, we observed the effect of increased concentrations of PM2.5 and PAHs on development of bronchitis. The Northern Moravia Region (Silesia) is characterized by high concentrations of c-PAHs due to industrial air pollution. Exposure to B[a]P (benzo[a]pyrene) in Ostrava-Radvanice is the highest in the EU. Children from this part of the city of Ostrava suffered higher incidence of acute respiratory diseases in the first year of life. Gene expression profiles in leukocytes of asthmatic children compared to children without asthma were evaluated in groups from Ostrava-Radvanice and Prachatice. The results suggest the distinct molecular phenotype of asthma bronchiale in children living in polluted Ostrava region compared to children living in Prachatice. The effect of exposure to air pollution to biomarkers in newborns was analyzed in Prague vs. Ceske Budejovice, two locations with different levels of pollution in winter season. B[a]P concentrations were higher in Ceske Budejovice. DNA adducts and micronuclei were also elevated in cord blood in Ceske Budejovice in comparison to Prague. Study of gene expression profiles in the cord blood showed differential expression of 104 genes. Specifically, biological processes related to immune and defense response were down-regulated in Ceske Budejovice. Our studies demonstrate that air pollution significantly affect child health. Especially noticeable is the increase of respiratory morbidity. With the development of molecular epidemiology, we can further evaluate the health risk of air pollution using biomarkers.

Keywords: Asthma bronchiale; Carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; DNA adducts; Micronuclei; PM2.5; Pregnancy outcome; Respiratory morbidity; Transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • DNA Adducts
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / chemically induced
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants
  • DNA Adducts
  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons