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Asthma, respiratory symptoms and lung function in children living near a petrochemical site.

Rovira, E., Cuadras, A., Aguilar, X., Esteban, L., Borràs-Santos, A., Zock, J.P., Sunyer, J. Asthma, respiratory symptoms and lung function in children living near a petrochemical site. Environmental Research: 2014, 133, p. 156-163.
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Residential proximity to environmental hazards has been related to adverse health outcomes. Respiratory health and allergies in children living near petrochemical sites have not been extensively studied. We evaluated the association between residential proximity to the petrochemical site of Tarragona (Catalonia, Spain) and the prevalence of asthma, respiratory symptoms and lung function in children. Children aged 6-7 (n=2672) and adolescents aged 13-14 (n=2524) residing near two large petrochemical sites and those living in a city with medium vehicular traffic were cross-sectionally compared with children from an area with low vehicular traffic and without industry. The prevalence of symptoms was measured using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood written and video questionnaires. Lung function measurements were done in a subsample of 959 adolescents in the four areas. Multivariable analyses were done to estimate the effects of the residential area on symptoms and lung function adjusted for potential confounders. Crude prevalence of symptoms was similar across the studied areas. After adjustment, children and adolescents living near a petrochemical site had a statistically significant higher prevalence of respiratory hospitalizations in the previous year (Prevalence Ratio (PR)=1.49; 95%CI, 1.06-2.09) and of nocturnal cough (PR=1.29; 95%CI 1.05-1.57), respectively. Reduced lung function values among adolescents residing near the petrochemical areas were not observed. Although a higher prevalence of asthma in children and adolescents living near the petrochemical sites could not be demonstrated, as described in other studies, respiratory hospitalizations and nocturnal cough could be related to short-term exposures to pollutants. Other clinical and sub-clinical respiratory health effects in the petrochemical industry areas should be investigated. (aut.ref.)