The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of the exposure to oil leak on pulmonary function and prevalence of asthma in the elementary school students in Taean, where were located in the western coast of Republic of Korea and exposed to offshore oil leak on December 7th, 2007
Subjects and methods
Of 662 eligible students, 477 (72.1%) subjects who agreed to and completed the health assessment were enrolled on June 2009. A Questionnaire developed by the International Study of Asthma and Allergic diseases in Children (ISSAC) was modified and used. Methacholine bronchial provocation tests (MBPT) were performed in 109 (22.9%) subjects who reported asthmatic symptoms in the questionnaire. Participants were stratified into two exposure groups (high vs. low). General characteristics and asthma-related symptoms, and prevalence of asthma were compared.
There were no statistically significant differences in sex, age, BMI, and family history of asthma between the two groups. The number of children who was previously diagnosed asthma, began wheezing after oil leak or had current asthma symptoms was significantly higher in the high-exposure group than that in the low-exposure group (previously diagnosed asthma; 20.6% vs 11.6%, P=0.008, wheezing after the oil leak; 6.7% vs 1.0%, P=0.01, current asthma symptoms; 30.6% vs 18.6%, P=0.00). FEV1 was significantly lower in the high-exposure group than that in the low-exposure group (82.6±10.8% vs 85.2±10.3%, P=0.01). Those who showed positive (PC20°Â16mg/ml) response in the bronchial provocation test was significantly higher in the high-exposure group than that in the low-exposure group (18.2% vs 7.6%, P=0.00). Logistic regression on asthma indicated increased odds for male (OR: 1.88, 95%CI: 1.04-3.41), children with family history of asthma (OR: 4.02, 95%CI: 1.38-11.71), and high-exposure group (OR: 3.26, 95%CI: 1.79-5.92) adjusting for age, sex, and BMI.
The study suggest that exposure to oil leak can be a risk factor in the development of asthma in elementary school students although the causality is not certain. Follow-up studies and further analyses with biologic exposure index will elucidate the relationship between oil leak and asthma.