Air Pollution Increases the Incidence of Upper Respiratory Tract Symptoms among Polish Children

Ratajczak, Artur Jerzy Badyda, P.O. Czechowski, A. Czarnecki, M. Dubrawski, W. Feleszko

A substantial proportion of airway disease’s global burden is attributable to exposure to air pollution. This study aimed to investigate the association between air pollution, assessed as concentrations of particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 on the upper respiratory tract symptoms (URTS) in children. A nation-wide, questionnaire-based study was conducted in Poland in winter 2018/2019 in a population of 1475 children, comparing URTS throughout the study period with publicly available data on airborne particulate matter. A general regression model was used to evaluate the lag effects between daily changes in PM10 and PM2.5 and the number of children reporting URTS and their severity. PM10 and PM2.5 in the single-pollutant models had significant effects on the number of children reporting URTS. The prevalence of URTS: “runny nose”, “sneezing” and “cough” was positively associated with 12-week mean PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations. In the locations with the highest average concentration of PM, the symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing were increased by 10%, 9% and 11%, respectively, compared to the cities with the lowest PM concentrations. This study showed that moderate-term exposure (12 week observation period) to air pollution was associated with an increased risk of URTS among children aged 3–12 years in Poland. These findings may influence public debate and future policy at the national and international levels to improve air quality in cities and improve children’s health.

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