Respiratory effects associated with indoor nitrogen dioxide exposure in children

Int J Epidemiol. 1997 Aug;26(4):788-96. doi: 10.1093/ije/26.4.788.


Background: The human health effects of exposure to indoor nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are unclear, and few studies have examined the effects of short-term peak levels of exposure.

Methods: The association between indoor exposure to NO2 and respiratory illness was examined in 388 children aged 6-11 years. The NO2 levels were monitored during winter in 41 classrooms, from four schools with unflued gas heating and four schools with electric heating. Each classroom was monitored daily with 6-hour passive diffusion badge monitors over nine alternate weeks, and with hourly monitors over two of those weeks. Children living in homes with unflued gas appliances were also monitored daily over four evenings during times of gas use.

Results: Exposure to NO2 at hourly peak levels of the order of > or = 80 ppb, compared with background levels of 20 ppb, was associated with a significant increase in sore throat, colds and absences from school. An increase in cough with phlegm was marginally significant. Significant dose-response relationships were demonstrated for these four measures with increasing levels of NO2 exposure.

Conclusions: Short-term peak levels of exposure are important to consider in relation to adverse respiratory effects associated with NO2 exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Schools


  • Nitrogen Dioxide