Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

International Journal on Disability and Human Development

Official journal of the the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Israel

More options …
Volume 12, Issue 4


Traffic-related air pollution and pediatric asthma in Durham County, North Carolina

Hilary Henry
  • Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA;
  • Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Rebecca Anthopolos
  • Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA;
  • Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Pamela Maxson
  • Corresponding author
  • Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA;
  • Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-11-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijdhd-2013-0209


Past studies have shown that traffic-related air pollution may increase pediatric asthma prevalence. We analyzed the relationship between distance of a child’s home to roadways and asthma prevalence in Durham County, North Carolina (NC). Data for children aged 5–12 years and with permanent addresses in Durham County were taken from the Decision Support Repository, an electronic warehouse of all patient records in the Duke University Hospital System. Records were analyzed using logistic regression analysis. Controlling for child race, age, sex, and household median income at the block group level, children who lived <75 m away from a local road were 20% less likely to be diagnosed with asthma. Our model did not show a relationship between the distance of a home to roadways and pediatric asthma prevalence for homes located at farther distances from local roads, or at any distance from NC State highways, US highways, or interstates. Our results indicate that traffic-related air pollution is not a major determinant for pediatric asthma prevalence in Durham County. As a generally low pollution area, the effects of traffic-related pollution may be less pronounced in Durham than in higher pollution areas. However, limitations in our modeling methods may have hindered our ability to detect a relationship. As the best strategy for decreasing the effects of traffic-related air pollution is to reduce other risk factors, Durham County can now take steps to break the cycle of disadvantage and disability of pediatric asthma, no matter the effect of traffic-related air pollution.

Keywords: disability; pediatric asthma; public health; roadways; traffic-related air pollution


  • 1.

    Akinbami LJ, Moorman JE, Liu X. Asthma prevalence, health care use, and mortality: United States, 2005–2009. Natl Health Stat Report 2011;32:1–14.Google Scholar

  • 2.

    Holguin F. Traffic, outdoor air pollution, and asthma. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am 2008;28:577–88.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 3.

    Bateson TF, Schwartz J. Children’s response to air pollutants. J Toxicol Environ Health A 2008;71:238–43.Google Scholar

  • 4.

    Trasande L, Thurston GD. The role of air pollution in asthma and other pediatric morbidities. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2005;115:689–99.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • 5.

    Selgrade MK, Plopper CG, Gilmour MI, Conolly RB, Foos BS. Assessing the health effects and risks associated with children’s inhalation exposures – asthma and allergy. J Toxicol Environ Health A 2008;71:196–207.Google Scholar

  • 6.

    Holguin F, Granados A, Romieu I, Flores S, Ross Z, Cortez M, et al. Traffic-related exposures, airway function, inflammation, and respiratory symptoms in children. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2007;176:1236–42.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 7.

    Reponen T, Grinshpun SA, Trakumas S, Martuzevicius D, Wang Z, LeMasters G, et al. Concentration gradient patterns of aerosol particles near interstate highways in the greater Cincinnati airshed. J Environ Monit 2003;5:557–62.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • 8.

    Sahsuvaroglu T, Jerrett M, Sears MR, McConnell R, Finkelstein N, Arain A, et al. Spatial analysis of air pollution and childhood asthma in Hamilton, Canada: comparing exposure methods in sensitive subgroups. Environ Health 2009;8:14.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 9.

    Kim JJ, Smorodinsky S, Lipsett M, Singer BC, Hodgson AT, Ostro B. Traffic-related air pollution near busy roads: The East Bay Children’s Respiratory Health Study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2004;170:520–6.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 10.

    Gehring U, Wijga AH, Brauer M, Fischer P, de Jongste JC, Kerkhof M, et al. Traffic-related air pollution and the development of asthma and allergies during the first 8 years of life. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010;181:596–603.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 11.

    Shankardass K, McConnell R, Jerrett M, Milam J, Richardson J, Berhane K. Parental stress increases the effect of traffic-related air pollution on childhood asthma incidence. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2009;106:12406–11.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 12.

    McConnell R, Thomas D, Peters J, Berhane K, Yao L, Jerrett M, et al. Traffic, susceptibility, and childhood asthma. Environ Health Perspect 2006;114:766–72.CrossrefPubMedWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 13.

    Gold DR, Wright R. Population disparities in asthma. Annu Rev Public Health 2005;26:89–113.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 14.

    Strickland MJ, Darrow LA, Klein M, Flanders WD, Sarnat JA, Waller LA, et al. Short-term associations between ambient air pollutants and pediatric asthma emergency department visits. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010;182:307–16.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 15.

    Venn A, Lewis S, Cooper M, Hubbard R, Hill I, Boddy R, et al. Local road traffic activity and the prevalence, severity, and persistence of wheeze in school children: combined cross sectional and longitudinal study. Occup Environ Med 2000;57:152–8.PubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 16.

    Lewis SA, Antoniak M, Venn AJ, Davies L, Goodwin A, Salfield N, et al. Secondhand smoke, dietary fruit intake, road traffic exposures, and the prevalence of asthma: a cross-sectional study in young children. Am J Epidemiol 2005;161:406–11.Google Scholar

  • 17.

    Wilkinson P, Elliott P, Grundy C, Shaddick G, Thakrar B, Walls P, et al. Case-control study of hospital admission with asthma in children aged 5–14 years: relation with road traffic in Northwest London. Thorax 1999;54:1070–4.Google Scholar

  • 18.

    Jerrett M, Molitor JT, Thomas DC, Peters J, McConnell R, Shankardass K, et al. Traffic-related air pollution and asthma onset in children: a prospective cohort study with individual exposure measurement. Environ Health Perspect 2008;116:1433–8.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 19.

    McConnell R, Yao L, Peters J, Berhane K, Islam T, Shankardass K, et al. Childhood incident asthma and traffic-related air pollution at home and school. Environ Health Perspect 2010;118:1021–6.CrossrefPubMedWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 20.

    Delfino RJ, Chang J, Wu J, Ren C, Tjoa T, Nickerson B, et al. Repeated hospital encounters for asthma in children and exposure to traffic-related air pollution near the home. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2009;102:138–44.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 21.

    StataCorp. Stata statistical software: release 11, 2009.Google Scholar

  • 22.

    United States Environmental Protection Agency. MSA: Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. Air Qual Summ Rep 2012.Google Scholar

  • 23.

    Hagler GS, Baldauf RW, Thoma ED, Long TR, Snow RF, Kinsey JS, et al. Ultrafine particles near a major roadway in Raleigh, North Carolina: downwind attenuation and correlation with traffic-related pollutants. Atmospheric Environ 2009;43:1229–34.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Corresponding author: Professor Pamela Maxson, PhD, Research Director, Director of Human Resources, Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, Box 90328, A137 LSRC, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA, E-mail:

Received: 2012-10-14

Accepted: 2012-12-15

Published Online: 2013-11-08

Published in Print: 2013-11-01

Citation Information: International Journal on Disability and Human Development, Volume 12, Issue 4, Pages 467–471, ISSN (Online) 2191-0367, ISSN (Print) 2191-1231, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijdhd-2013-0209.

Export Citation

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in