Traffic exposure associated with allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis in adults. A cross-sectional study in southern Sweden.Int J Health Geogr. 2009 May 06; 8:25.IJ
There is conflicting evidence that traffic-related air pollution is a risk factor for allergic conditions. Few studies have investigated this in adults. In adults, a high proportion of asthma, rhinitis and eczema is triggered by non-allergic factors. We investigated traffic as a risk factor for allergic versus non-allergic asthma and rhinitis, and eczema, in adults. A questionnaire from 2000 (n = 9319, 18-77 years) provided individual data about disease outcome and self-reported traffic exposure. Additional exposure assessments were obtained using Geographical Informations Systems (GIS). Residential addresses were linked to the national Swedish Road Database and to a pollutant database with modelled annual means of NOx (Nitrogen Oxids).
Living within 100 m from a road with a traffic intensity of >10 cars/min (24 hour mean) was associated with prevalence of current asthma reported to be triggered by allergic factors (OR = 1.83, 95% CI = 1.23-2.72) and with allergic rhinitis (OR = 1.30, 95%CI = (1.05-1.61). No relation was seen with asthma or rhinitis triggered by other factors. Living within 100 m of a road with >10 cars/min was also associated with hand-eczema during the last 12 months (OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.19-2.23), but not with allergic eczema or diagnosed hand-eczema. Consistent results were seen using self-reported traffic, but the associations with NOx were less consistent.
Exposure to traffic was associated with a higher prevalence of allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis, but not with asthma or rhinitis triggered by non-allergic factors. This difference was suggested by the overall pattern, but only clear using GIS-measured traffic intensity as a proxy for traffic exposure. An association was also found with hand-eczema during the last 12 months. We suggest that asthma and rhinitis should not be treated as homogenous groups when estimating effects from traffic in adults.