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Air Pollution May Diminish Lung Growth in Children

Lung growth deficits found for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and particulates

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Prolonged exposure to ozone, nitrogen dioxide and microscopic particulates can slow the rate of lung growth in school-age children, according to a report published Aug. 15 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Isabelle Romieu, M.D., of the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and colleagues followed 3,170 Mexico City 8-year-olds for three years, studying the relationship between exposure to pollutants and lung function.

In one-pollutant models, in both boys and girls, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter less than 10-microns in diameter all resulted in a decrease in lung growth, as measured by forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and in the case of ozone, forced expiratory flow - midexpiratory phase values. Similar results were seen for two-pollutant and multi-pollutant models. In the multi-pollutant model, a 12.0 parts per billion increase in nitrogen dioxide was associated (in girls) with deficits of -40 milliliters in FVC, -30 mL in FEV1, and -3 mL/second in forced expiratory flow, midexpiratory phase. Children exposed to lower levels of pollutants throughout the study consistently showed better lung function.

"The results of this three-year study support the hypothesis that long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants is associated with deficits in lung growth in children," the authors conclude.

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