Study objective: To determine whether increased exposure to particulate matter air pollution (PM), measured with personal, residential, or central site monitoring, was associated with pulmonary function decrements in either adults with COPD or children with asthma.
Participants: We studied 57 adults with or without COPD and 17 children aged 6 to 13 years with physician-diagnosed asthma in Seattle during a 3-year panel study.
Study design and measurements: Indoor and outdoor PM measurements were made at subjects’ homes. The subjects wore personal exposure monitors for 10 consecutive 24-h periods, and PM was also measured at a central outdoor location. We assessed the within-subject effect of particulate exposure on FEV1 and peak expiratory flow (PEF) in adults, and maximal midexpiratory flow (MMEF), PEF, FEV1, and symptoms in children.
Results: FEV1 decrements were associated with 1-day lagged central site PM ≤ 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) in adult subjects with COPD. In children not receiving antiinflammatory medication, same day indoor, outdoor, and central site exposures to PM2.5 were associated with decrements in MMEF, PEF, and FEV1. Associations with PM2.5 and lung function decrements were also observed for 1-day lagged indoor (MMEF, PEF, FEV1) and personal (PEF only) exposures. Antiinflammatory medication use in children significantly attenuated the PM effect on airflow rates and volumes.
Conclusions: This study found consistent decrements in MMEF in children with asthma who were not receiving medications. It is notable that effects were observed even though PM exposures were low for an urban area. These findings suggest the need for future larger studies of PM effects in this susceptible population that repeatedly measure spirometry to include MMEF and potentially more sensitive markers of airway inflammation such as exhaled breath condensate and exhaled nitric oxide.