The effects of ambient ozone on lung function in children: a reanalysis of six summer camp studies

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Feb;104(2):170-4. doi: 10.1289/ehp.96104170.


Studies of children attending summer camps often have observed relationships between daily outdoor ozone (O3) concentrations and decreased lung function that are qualitatively similar to results seen in human chamber studies. The former studies, focusing on the pulmonary effects of O3 and associated pollutants on children under natural conditions of exposure, are potentially of great importance to understanding the public health impact of ambient O3. However, a thorough assessment of the results of these studies has been hampered by differences in the analysis and reporting of data across the various studies. We obtained data sets from six summer camp studies carried out by three separate investigative groups, including two New Jersey studies performed by New York University, two studies in Ontario carried out by Health and Welfare Canada, and two studies in southern California. The data consisted of sequential, daily measurements of forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1), peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), and 1-hr O3 concentration in the hour preceding lung function measurements for each child. We analyzed the relationships between lung function and O3 using linear regression models that fit subject-specific intercepts and a single, pooled O3 slope. These models were fit for each of the six studies separately and for all studies combined. All of the study-specific slopes of FEV1 on O3 were negative (i.e., increased O3 associated with decreased FEV1); five of six were statistically significant. Analysis of the combined six-study data set yielded a slope of -0.50 ml FEV1/ppb O3 (p<0.0001). Addition of time-trend variables to the combined-data analysis diminished, but did not eliminate, the FEV1-O3 relationship. Study-specific slopes for PEFR on O3 were more variable. Combined over studies, no significant relationship was observed between PEFR and O3. However, this negative finding appeared to be partially confounded by time trends in PEFR. The results of this reanalysis provide strong evidence that children exposed to O3 under natural conditions experience decreases in FEV1 of the kind demonstrated in laboratory studies, and raise concern that other acute respiratory effects observed in those studies (e.g., pulmonary inflammation) may also occur in young people exposed to ambient O3.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • California
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Male
  • New Jersey
  • Ontario
  • Ozone / pharmacology*
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Time Factors


  • Ozone