LBNL Report Number
Recent studies, primarily in Europe, have reported associations between respiratory symptoms and residential proximity to traffic; however, few have measured traffic pollutants or provided information about local air quality. We conducted a school-based, crosssectional study in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2001. Information on current bronchitis symptoms and asthma, home environment, and demographics was obtained by parental questionnaire (n = 1,109). Concentrations of traffic pollutants (particulate matter, black carbon, total nitrogen oxides [NOX], and nitrogen dioxide [NO2]) were measured at 10 school sites during several seasons. Although pollutant concentrations were relatively low, we observed differences in concentrations between schools nearby versus those more distant (or upwind) from major roads. Using a two-stage multiple-logistic regression model, we found associations between respiratory symptoms and traffic-related pollutants. Among those living at their current residence for at least 1 year, the adjusted odds ratio for asthma in relationship to an interquartile difference in NOX was 1.07 (95% confidence interval, 1.00–1.14). Thus, we found spatial variability in traffic pollutants and associated differences in respiratory symptoms in a region with good air quality. Our findings support the hypothesis that traffic-related pollution is associated with respiratory symptoms in children.