Background: We previously identified air quality as a risk factor of interest for pediatric multiple sclerosis. The purpose of this study is to more closely examine the association between the six criteria air pollutants and pediatric MS as well as identify specific areas of toxic release using data from the Toxic Release Inventory.
Methods: Pediatric MS cases (N = 290) and healthy controls (N = 442) were included as part of an ongoing case-control study. We used the National Emissions Inventory system to estimate particulate exposure by county of residence for each participant. Proximity to Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) sites was also assessed using ArcGIS mapping tools. Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) classified counties at risk to exposure of environmental toxic releases.
Results: Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO 2), and lead air emissions were associated with increased odds for pediatric MS (P < 0.01) for those residing within 20 miles of an MS center. Most study participants (75%) resided within 5 miles of at least one TRI site; however, the mean total pounds of stack air releases was higher for sites near MS cases (81,000 tons) compared to those near healthy controls (35,000 tons, P = 0.002). Average RSEI scores did not differ significantly between cases and controls.
Conclusion: Out of several air pollutants examined, we show that fine particulate matter and three other criteria pollutants (SO 2, CO, and lead) were statistically associated with higher odds for pediatric MS.