Traffic exposure and lung function in adults: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study

Haidong Kan; Heiss, Gerardo; Rose, Kathryn M.; Whitsel, Eric; Lurmann, Fred; London, Stephanie J.
October 2007
Thorax;Oct2007, Vol. 62 Issue 10, p873
Academic Journal
Background: Traffic exposure is a major contributor to ambient air pollution for people living close to busy roads. The relationship between traffic exposure and lung function remains inconclusive in adults. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate the association between traffic exposure and lung function in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, a community based cohort of 15 792 middle aged men and women. Traffic density and distance to major roads. were used as measures of traffic exposure. Results: After controlling for potential confounders including demographic factors, personal and neighbourhood level socioeconomic characteristics, cigarette smoking and background air pollution, higher traffic density was significantly associated with lower forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) in women. Relative to the lowest quartile of traffic density, the adjusted differences across increasing quartiles were 5.1, -15.4 and -21.5 ml for FEV1 (p value of linear trend across the quartiles = 0.041) and 1 .2, -23.4 and -34.8 ml for FVC (p trend = 0.010). Using distance from major roads as a simpler index of traffic related air pollution exposure, the FEV1 was -15.7 ml (95% CI -34.4 to 2.9) lower and the FVC was -24.2 ml (95% CI -46.2 to -2.3) lower for women living within 150 m compared with subjects living further away. There was no significant effect of traffic density or distance to major roads on lung function in men. The FEV1 /FYC ratio was not significantly associated with traffic exposure in either men or women. Conclusions: This is the largest published study of traffic exposure and pulmonary function in adults to date. These results add to growing evidence that chronic exposure to traffic related air pollution may adversely affect respiratory health.


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