Spirometric data from 86 primary school children living in an area of air pollution resulting from wire reclamation incineration were analysed and compared with 92 non-exposed schoolchildren. There were lower values for forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume and thus a higher incidence of pulmonary function abnormalities in the children in the polluted area than those in a non-polluted area. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms between these two areas when surveyed by a questionnaire. Twenty eight schoolchildren from a non-polluted area and 26 children from the polluted area, who were said to have no respiratory symptoms and for whom consent forms were obtained, were recruited for a bronchial responsiveness test. Nine (35%) of 26 children in the polluted area were responders (less than 50 U) and only one of the control subjects was a responder. The mean (SD) log cumulative dose producing a 35% decrease in respiratory conductance and the minimum cumulative dose required to decrease respiratory conductance from the baseline in the children of the polluted area were significantly lower than that of the control subjects (1.32 (0.37) log units and 1.26 (0.44) log units, respectively, compared with 1.70 (0.10) log unit for both measurements in non-exposed children). These results indicate that air pollution resulting from wire reclamation can produce a detrimental effect on both pulmonary function and bronchial responsiveness in primary schoolchildren who are continually exposed to air pollutants from the time of their birth.
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