Respiratory health and long-term exposure to air pollutants in Swiss schoolchildren. SCARPOL Team. Swiss Study on Childhood Allergy and Respiratory Symptoms with Respect to Air Pollution, Climate and Pollen

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 Mar;155(3):1042-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.155.3.9116984.


The impact of long-term exposure to air pollution on respiratory and allergic symptoms and illnesses was assessed in a cross-sectional study of schoolchildren (ages 6 to 15 yr, n = 4,470) living in 10 different communities in Switzerland. Air pollution measurements (particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter [PM10], nitrogen dioxide [NO2], sulfur dioxide [SO2], and ozone) and meteorologic data were collected in each community. Reported symptom rates of chronic cough, nocturnal dry cough, and bronchitis, adjusted for individual risk factors, were positively associated with PM10, NO2, and SO2. The strongest relationship was observed for PM10 (adjusted odds ratios for chronic cough, nocturnal dry cough, and bronchitis between the most and the least polluted community for PM10 were 3.07 [95% CI: 1.62 to 5.81], 2.88 [95% CI: 1.69 to 4.89], and 2.17 [95% CI: 1.21 to 4.89], respectively). The high correlation between the average concentrations of the pollutants makes the assessment of the relative importance of each pollutant difficult. No association between long-term exposure to air pollution and classic asthmatic and allergic symptoms and illnesses was found. There was some indication that frequency of fog is a risk factor of chronic cough and bronchitis, independent of air pollution. In conclusion, this study provides further evidence that rates of respiratory illnesses and symptoms among children augment with increasing levels of air pollution even in countries like Switzerland with moderate average air pollution concentrations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants*
  • Child
  • Cough
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Weather


  • Air Pollutants