Evaluating the Effects of Air Pollution from a Plastic Recycling Facility on the Health of Nearby Residents

Acta Med Okayama. 2017 Jun;71(3):209-217. doi: 10.18926/AMO/55203.


We evaluated how exposure to airborne volatile organic compounds emitted from a plastic recycling facility affected nearby residents, in a cross-sectional study. Individuals>10 years old were randomly sampled from 50 households at five sites and given questionnaires to complete. We categorized the subjects by distance from the recycling facility and used this as a proxy measure for pollutant exposure. We sought to improve on a preceding study by generating new findings, improving methods for questionnaire distribution and collection, and refining site selection. We calculated the odds of residents living 500 or 900 m away from the facility reporting mucocutaneous and respiratory symptoms using a reference group of residents 2,800 m away. Self-reported nasal congestion (odds ratio=3.0, 95% confidence interval=1.02-8.8), eczema (5.1, 1.1-22.9), and sore throat (3.9, 1.1-14.1) were significantly higher among residents 500 m from the facility. Those 900 m away were also considerably more likely to report experiencing eczema (4.6, 1.4-14.9). Air pollution was found responsible for significantly increased reports of mucocutaneous and respiratory symptoms among nearby residents. Our findings confirm the effects of pollutants emitted from recycling facilities on residents' health and clarify that study design differences did not affect the results.

Keywords: air pollutants; mucocutaneous symptoms; recycling facility; respiratory symptoms; volatile organic compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Plastics / toxicity*
  • Recycling*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / toxicity*
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Plastics
  • Volatile Organic Compounds