Impact of Air Pollution on Lung Function among Preadolescent Children in Two Cities in Poland

P. Dąbrowiecki, Ł. Adamkiewicz, Dominika Mucha, P.O. Czechowski, Mateusz Soliński, A. Chciałowski, Artur Jerzy Badyda

Ambient air pollution impairs lung development in children, particularly in industrialized areas. The air quality in Zabrze, a city located in the Upper Silesian Industrial Region of Poland, is among the worst in Europe. We compared lung function and the frequency of respiratory or allergic symptoms between children living in Zabrze and those living in Gdynia, a city on the Baltic coast, which has the best long-term air quality in Poland. We enrolled children aged 9–15 years from both cities who were able to perform a spirometry. The following spirometry variables were measured for all participants: forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume during the first second of expiration (FEV1), FEV1/FVC index, and peak expiratory flow (PEF). The frequencies of respiratory or allergic symptoms were taken from a survey completed by the participants’ parents. In total, 258 children from Gdynia and 512 children from Zabrze were examined. The mean values of FVC, FEV1, and PEF were significantly greater among children in Gdynia than those reported in Zabrze (p ≤ 0.032), and the frequencies of seasonal rhinorrhea (p = 0.015) or coughing episodes (p = 0.022) were significantly higher in Zabrze than in Gdynia. In conclusion, lung function was significantly impaired in children living in Zabrze, an area which is associated with poor air quality. Strategies to improve air quality in the Silesia region are urgently needed.

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