Effects of air pollutants on childhood asthma

Jeong Hee Kim, Ja Kyoung Kim, Byong Kwan Son, Ji Eun Oh, Dae Hyun Lim, Kwan Hee Lee, Youn Chol Hong, Sung Il Cho

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Epidemiologic studies have suggested the association between environmental exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the increased risk of incurring asthma. Yet there is little data regarding the relationship between personal exposure to air pollution and the incidence of asthma in children. This study was designed to evaluate the effect of exposure to air pollution on children with asthma by using exposure biomarkers. We assessed the exposure level to VOCs by measuring urinary concentrations of hippuric acid and muconic acid, and PAHs by 1-OH pyrene and 2-naphthol in 30 children with asthma and 30 children without asthma (control). The mean level of hippuric acid was 0.158±0.169 μmol/mol creatinine in the asthma group and 0.148±0.249 μmol/mol creatinine in the control group, with no statistical significance noted (p=0.30). The mean concentration of muconic acid was higher in the asthma group than in the control group (7.630 ±8.915 μmol/mol creatinine vs. 3.390±4.526 μmol/mol creatinine p=0.01). The mean level of urinary 1-OHP was higher in the asthma group (0.430±0.343 μmol/mol creatinine) than the control group (0.239±0.175 μmol/mol creatinine), which was statistically significant (p=0.03). There was no difference in the mean concentration of 2-NAP between the two groups (9.864±10.037 μmol/mol in the asthma group vs. 9.157± 9.640 μmol/mol in the control group, p=0.96). In conclusion, this study suggests that VOCs and PAHs have some role in asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalYonsei Medical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Apr 2005


  • Asthma
  • PAHs
  • VOCs

Cite this

Kim, J. H., Kim, J. K., Son, B. K., Oh, J. E., Lim, D. H., Lee, K. H., Hong, Y. C., & Cho, S. I. (2005). Effects of air pollutants on childhood asthma. Yonsei Medical Journal, 46(2), 239-244. https://doi.org/10.3349/ymj.2005.46.2.239