The role of the indoor environment: Residential determinants of allergy, asthma and pulmonary function in children from a US-Mexico border community

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Mar;616-617:1513-1523. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.162. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


The El Paso Children's Health Study examined environmental risk factors for allergy and asthma among fourth and fifth grade schoolchildren living in a major United States-Mexico border city. Complete questionnaire information was available for 5210 children, while adequate pulmonary function data were available for a subset of 1874. Herein we studied indoor environmental health risk factors for allergy and asthma. Several indoor environmental risk factors were associated with allergy and asthma. In particular, we found that ant and spider pest problems, pet dogs, fireplace heat, central air conditioning, humidifier use, and cooking with gas stoves were positively associated with both allergy and asthma prevalence. With regards to asthma severity, our analysis indicated that exposure to pet dogs increased monotonically with increasing asthma severity while the lack of any heat source and gas stove use for cooking decreased monotonically with increasing asthma severity. Lung function also decreased among children who lived in homes with reported cockroach pest problem in the past year without concurrent use of pesticides. These effects on pulmonary function were present even after excluding children with a current physician's diagnosis of asthma. Clinicians and public health professionals may need to look closely at the contribution of these indoor risk factors on pulmonary health and quality of life among susceptible populations.

Keywords: Allergy; Asthma; Environmental risk factors; Indoor air quality.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • United States / epidemiology