Studies suggest that traffic exposures can influence asthma and allergic symptoms among children; air pollution is associated with exacerbation of asthma symptoms in children with asthma. There has been few studies about the susceptibility of subgroups and on new onset asthma.The objective of the study is to investigate the effects of traffic air pollution on allergies with emphasis on gender differences in the respiratory effects of air pollution.
We studied 1400 schoolchildren from two locations in Egypt: Cairo with high level of air pollution and Shbeen Al Koom in the Delata with low level of air pollution. Lung function testing was done by the Vitalograph spirometer. The Arabic version of ISAAC questionnaire was used (the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood). Air pollution Measurements were collected from the Government sites in both locations.
Mean values of SO2, NO2, Ozone, CO, and PM10 in Cairo were significantly lower than Shbeen Al Koom (39.0 vs 17.0;62.8 vs 55.8 ug/m3; 93.0 vs 28.8 ug/m3; 3.0 vs 1.3 mg/m3; and 263.5 vs 94.0 ug/m3, respectively. Forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) and peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) were lower in children in Cairo compared to Shben Al Koom (1.99 vs 2.03 l; 1.70 vs 1.79 l; and 204.4 vs 207.4 l/min, respectively. The prevalence rates of current wheeze, asthma, rhinitis, hay fever and eczema in Cairo were higher than Shbeen Al Koom (6.9 vs 5.6% ; 5.5 vs 3.3%; 24.2 vs 17.9; 9.5 vs 6.4%; and 9.1 vs 5.6% , respectively. The prevalence rates of ever rhinitis were 6.0% and 3.0% higher in boys and girls in Cairo compared to Shbeen Al Koom, respectively. Children who developed rash less than 2 years of age were 2.0% and 5.0% higher in boys and girls in Cairo compared to Shbeen Al Koom, respectively.
Air pollution is associated with increased prevalence of asthma and allergies in these children. The present study illustrates that there is an adverse respiratory effects of exposure to traffic air pollution on children showing gender differences. The present study will help to implement strategic health intervention programmes to improve the respiratory health of these children.