Association between particulate matter concentration and symptoms of atopic dermatitis in children living in an industrial urban area of South Korea

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Increased exposure to particulate matter (PM) appears to increase the development of atopic diseases and allergic sensitization. This study evaluated the association between daily levels of PM with diameters less than 10 μm (PM10) and PM2.5 and symptoms of atopic dermatitis (AD) in children living in an industrial urban area.


Indoor PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations were measured with an optical particle counter in two preschools near large industrial complexes in Ulsan, South Korea during two 6-month periods (May–October of 2012 and 2013). Twenty-one children with AD from these preschools were enrolled and observed daily for AD symptoms during the same periods. Indoor and outdoor PM concentrations were used to estimate PM exposure based on time activity patterns.


Analysis of PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations showed that indoor and outdoor PM10 levels varied similarly throughout each 6-month period. In addition, indoor concentration of PM2.5 had high correlation with ambient outdoor concentration of PM10. Correlation analysis also indicated a significant positive correlation between the exacerbation of AD symptoms and daily mean exposure to PM10 and PM2.5. Based on a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM), PM exposure was significantly associated with the exacerbation of AD symptoms, with a maximum adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 1.399 for a 10 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5 (95% CI: 1.216–1.610).


Our findings suggest that short-term exposure to PM can exacerbate AD in young children living in an industrial urban area. PM2.5 had a stronger effect than PM10 on exacerbation of AD symptoms.

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