Lung health and exposure to air pollution in Malawian children (CAPS): a cross-sectional study.

By Sarah Rylance, Rebecca Nightingale, Andrew Naunje, Frank Mbalume, Chris Jewell, John R Balmes, Jonathan Grigg, Kevin Mortimer. Published in Thorax. August 29, 2019.   


Non-communicable lung disease and exposure to air pollution are major problems in sub-Saharan Africa. A high burden of chronic respiratory symptoms, spirometric abnormalities and air pollution exposures has been found in Malawian adults; whether the same would be true in children is unknown. This cross-sectional study of children aged 6-8 years, in rural Malawi, included households from communities participating in the Cooking and Pneumonia Study (CAPS), a trial of cleaner-burning biomass-fuelled cookstoves. We assessed; chronic respiratory symptoms, anthropometry, spirometric abnormalities (using Global Lung Initiative equations) and personal carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Prevalence estimates were calculated, and multivariable analyses were done. We recruited 804 children (mean age 7.1 years, 51.9% female), including 476 (260 intervention; 216 control) from CAPS households. Chronic respiratory symptoms (mainly cough (8.0%) and wheeze (7.1%)) were reported by 16.6% of children. Average height-for-age and weight-for-age z-scores were -1.04 and -1.10, respectively. Spirometric abnormalities (7.1% low forced vital capacity (FVC); 6.3% obstruction) were seen in 13.0% of children. Maximum CO exposure and carboxyhaemoglobin levels (COHb) exceeded WHO guidelines in 50.1% and 68.5% of children, respectively. Children from CAPS intervention households had lower COHb (median 3.50% vs 4.85%, p=0.006) and higher FVC z-scores (-0.22 vs -0.44, p=0.05) than controls. The substantial burden of chronic respiratory symptoms, abnormal spirometry and air pollution exposures in children in rural Malawi is concerning; effective prevention and control strategies are needed. Our finding of potential benefit in CAPS intervention households calls for further research into clean-air interventions to maximise healthy lung development in children.

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Ambient air pollution is associated with pediatric pneumonia: a time-stratified case-crossover study in an urban area.

By Chi-Yung Cheng, Shih-Yu Cheng, Chien-Chih Chen, Hsiu-Yung Pan, Kuan-Han Wu & Fu-Jen Cheng. Published in Environmental Health. August 28, 2019.   


Pneumonia, the leading reason underlying childhood deaths, may be triggered or exacerbated by air pollution. To date, only a few studies have examined the association of air pollution with emergency department (ED) visits for pediatric pneumonia, with inconsistent results. Therefore, we aimed to elucidate the impact of short-term exposure to particulate matter (PM) and other air pollutants on the incidence of ED visits for pediatric pneumonia. PM2.5, PM10, and other air pollutant levels were measured at 11 air quality-monitoring stations in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, between 2008 and 2014. Further, we extracted the medical records of non-trauma patients aged ≤17 years and who had visited an ED with the principal diagnosis of pneumonia. A time-stratified case–crossover study design was employed to determine the hazard effect of air pollution in a total of 4024 patients. The single-pollutant model suggested that per interquartile range increment in PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) on 3 days before the event increased the odds of pediatric pneumonia by 14.0% [95% confidence interval (CI), 5.1–23.8%], 10.9% (95% CI, 2.4–20.0%), 14.1% (95% CI, 5.0–24.1%), and 4.5% (95% CI, 0.8–8.4%), respectively. In two-pollutant models, PM2.5 and NO2 were significant after adjusting for PM10 and SO2. Subgroup analyses showed that older children (aged ≥4 years) were more susceptible to PM2.5 (interaction p = 0.024) and children were more susceptible to NO2 during warm days (≥26.5 °C, interaction p = 0.011). Short-term exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 possibly plays an important role in pediatric pneumonia in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Older children are more susceptible to PM2.5, and all children are more susceptible to NO2 during warm days.

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Predictors of personal exposure to black carbon among women in southern semi-rural Mozambique

By Ariadna Curto, David Donaire-Gonzalez, Maria N. Manaca, Raquel González, Charfudin Sacoor, Ioar Rivashi, Mireia Gascon, Gregory A. Wellenius, Xavier Querol, Jordi Sunyer, Eusébio Macete, Clara Menéndez, Cathryn Tonne

Environmental International, To be published October 2019


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the highest proportion of people using unclean fuels for household energy, which can result in products of incomplete combustion that are damaging for health. Black carbon (BC) is a useful marker of inefficient combustion-related particles; however, ambient air quality data and temporal patterns of personal exposure to BC in SSA are scarce. We measured ambient elemental carbon (EC), comparable to BC, and personal exposure to BC in women of childbearing age from a semi-rural area of southern Mozambique. We measured ambient EC over one year (2014–2015) using a high-volume sampler and an off-line thermo-optical-transmission method. We simultaneously measured 5-min resolved 24-h personal BC using a portable MicroAeth (AE51) in 202 women. We used backwards stepwise linear regression to identify predictors of log-transformed 24-h mean and peak (90th percentile) personal BC exposure. We analyzed data from 187 non-smoking women aged 16–46 years. While daily mean ambient EC reached moderate levels (0.9 μg/m3, Standard Deviation, SD: 0.6 μg/m3), daily mean personal BC reached high levels (15 μg/m3, SD: 19 μg/m3). Daily patterns of personal exposure revealed a peak between 6 and 7 pm (>35 μg/m3), attributable to kerosene-based lighting. Key determinants of mean and peak personal exposure to BC were lighting source, kitchen type, ambient EC levels, and temperature. This study highlights the important contribution of lighting sources to personal exposure to combustion particles in populations that lack access to clean household energy.

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Home Smoke Exposure and Health-Related Quality of Life in Children with Acute Respiratory Illness

By Johnson, BS, Karen M Wilson, MD, MPH, Chuan Zhou, PhD, David P Johnson, MD, Chén C Kenyon, MD, MSHP, Joel S Tieder, MD, MPH, Andrea Dean, MD, Rita Mangione-Smith, MD, MPH, Derek J Williams, MD, MPH


Journal of Hospital Medicine, April 2019


This study aims to assess whether secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure has an impact on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in children with acute respiratory illness (ARI). This study was nested within a multicenter, prospective cohort study of children (two weeks to 16 years) with ARI (emergency department visits for croup and hospitalizations for croup, asthma, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia) between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016. Subjects were surveyed upon enrollment for sociodemographics, healthcare utilization, home SHS exposure (0 or ≥1 smoker in the home), and child HRQOL (Pediatric Quality of Life Physical Functioning Scale) for both baseline health (preceding illness) and acute illness (on admission). Data on insurance status and medical complexity were collected from the Pediatric Hospital Information System database. Multivariable linear mixed regression models examined associations between SHS exposure and HRQOL

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Global, national, and urban burdens of paediatric asthma incidence attributable to ambient NO2 pollution: estimates from global datasets

By Pattanun Achakulwisut, Michael Brauer,  Perry Hystad, Susan C Anenberg

The Lancet Planetary Health, April 10, 2019  


Globally, we estimated that 4·0 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 1·8–5·2) new paediatric asthma cases could be attributable to NO2 pollution annually; 64% of these occur in urban centres. This burden accounts for 13% (6–16) of global incidence. Regionally, the greatest burdens of new asthma cases associated with NO2 exposure per 100 000 children were estimated for Andean Latin America (340 cases per year, 95% UI 150–440), high-income North America (310, 140–400), and high-income Asia Pacific (300, 140–370). Within cities, the greatest burdens of new asthma cases associated with NO2 exposure per 100 000 children were estimated for Lima, Peru (690 cases per year, 95% UI 330–870); Shanghai, China (650, 340–770); and Bogota, Colombia (580, 270–730). Among 125 major cities, the percentage of new asthma cases attributable to NO2 pollution ranged from 5·6% (95% UI 2·4–7·4) in Orlu, Nigeria, to 48% (25–57) in Shanghai, China. This contribution exceeded 20% of new asthma cases in 92 cities. We estimated that about 92% of paediatric asthma incidence attributable to NO2 exposure occurred in areas with annual average NO2 concentrations lower than the WHO guideline of 21 parts per billion.


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