Allergic disease associations with regional and localized estimates of air pollution

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Abstract

Background:

Exposure to multiple types of air pollution may contribute to and exacerbate allergic diseases including asthma and wheezing. However, few studies have examined chronic air pollution exposure and allergic disease outcomes among an adult population. Associations between potential estimates of annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5), traffic related air pollution, and industrial source air emissions and three allergic disease outcomes (asthma, allergies and wheezing) were examined in a state-wide general population of adults.

Methods:

The study includes a representative sample of 3381 adult Wisconsin residents who participated in the 2008–2013 Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) program. Participant data were geographically linked to The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Baysian space-time downscaler air pollution model for PM2.5, the United States Census roadway, and USEPA's Toxic Release Inventory data. Self-report and lung function (FEV1) estimates were used to define prevalence of asthma, allergies and wheezing symptoms.

Results:

Annual mean exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was between 6.59 and 15.14 μg/m3. An increase of 5 μg/m3 in the annual mean PM2.5 resulted in a 3.58 (2.36, 5.43) increase in the adjusted odds (95% CI) of having asthma. Exposure to vehicle traffic increased the odds of both current allergies [OR (95% CI)=1.35 (1.07, 1.35)] and current asthma [OR (95% CI)=1.51 (1.14, 2.00)]. Living within 300 m of an Interstate roadway was associated with a 3-fold increase in the odds of asthma. Those living within 800 m of an industrial site were 47% more likely to have asthma. No significant associations were seen with wheezing.

Conclusions:

Within this population exposed to overall annual average levels of estimated low level chronic exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at or near 12 μg/m3, the USEPA standard for air quality, significant association between both modeled PM2.5 exposure and proximity to roadways with asthma and allergies but not wheezing were found. Industrial source emissions were not associated with any allergic disease outcomes.

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