Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Heavy Traffic Can Be a Pain in the ... Ear? Vehicle Emissions Linked to Otitis Media

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Heavy Traffic Can Be a Pain in the ... Ear? Vehicle Emissions Linked to Otitis Media

Article excerpt

Traffic is a major source of air pollutants, and more studies are looking at the role of traffic-related air pollution in children's health. Researchers report in this issue that young children exposed to higher levels of traffic pollution have a greater incidence of otitis media (middle ear infections) than those exposed to lower levels [EHP 114:1414-1418; Brauer et al.]. In 2002, the same team found that such pollution increased the risk for asthma and upper respiratory tract infections in young children. Now they focus on otitis media because upper respiratory tract infections often progress to ear infections, which are one of the leading reasons for visits to doctors and the use of antibiotics in childhood.

The new study involved approximately 3,700 Dutch children and 650 German children surveyed from birth to age 2 years. Researchers in those countries monitored the concentrations of three common traffic-related pollutants (nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter less than 2.5 [micro]m in diameter, and elemental carbon) at 40 different sites in each country, then used those data to estimate exposures at each child's residence. The levels of pollutants measured were similar in both countries and fell within a range commonly experienced by people living in industrialized nations. …

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