Health effects of acid aerosols on North American children: respiratory symptoms

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 May;104(5):500-5. doi: 10.1289/ehp.96104500.


We examined the respiratory health effects of exposure to acidic air pollution among 13,369 white children 8 to 12 years old from 24 communities in the United States and Canada between 1988 and 1991. Each child's parent or guardian completed a questionnaire. Air quality and meteorology were measured in each community for a 1-year period. We used a two-stage logistic regression model to analyze the data, adjusting for the potential confounding effects of sex, history of allergies, parental asthma, parental education, and current smoking in the home. Children living in the community with the highest levels of particle strong acidity were significantly more likely [odds ratio (OR) = 1.66; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11-2.48] to report at least one episode of bronchitis in the past year compared to children living in the least-polluted community. Fine particulate sulfate was also associated with higher reporting of bronchitis (OR = 1.65; 95% CI 1.12-2.42). No other respiratory symptoms were significantly higher in association with any of the air pollutants of interest. No sensitive subgroups were identified. Reported bronchitis, but neither asthma, wheeze, cough, nor phlegm, were associated with levels of particle strong acidity for these children living in a nonurban environment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Bronchitis / chemically induced
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants