Long-term air pollution exposure and lung function in 15 year-old adolescents living in an urban and rural area in Germany: The GINIplus and LISAplus cohorts (Abstract, Elaine Fuertes, Johannes Bracher , Claudia Flexeder , Iana Markevych , Claudia Klümper, Barbara Hoffmann , Ursula Krämer, Andrea von Berg , Carl-Peter Bauer , Sibylle Koletzko , Dietrich Berdel, Joachim Heinrich, Holger Schulz, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Mar. 2015)
Today we review research that tries to answer the question of whether exposure to traffic-related air pollution by children has both a short term and long term effect on their lung development. Results indicate that while no link was found between long term exposure on lung development, that those who had asthma did show a link with long term exposure to NO2. It was also observed that the impact of short term exposure may be reversible later in their lives.
“There is a need to analyze the recently available lung function data to determine (1) whether the relative importance of early versus current TRAP [Traffic-Related Air Pollution] exposure can be clarified, (2) whether TRAP-induced persistent long-term changes in lung development (up to 15 years of age) exist and (3) what role asthma may play in this relationship."
“Lung development follows a linear pattern with age and height in early adolescence, but becomes non-linear after the growth spurt, continuing until the end of puberty in males but being shorter in duration and almost finished following menarche in females … This non-linear growth relationship throughout adolescence may make it difficult to disentangle the effect of TRAP exposure on lung development during this age period, although clear effects on lung function growth between 10 and 18 years have been observed in the Children’s Health Study”
“Air pollution exposure might have a reversible effect on lung function leading to retardation in lung development in younger, more vulnerable stages, but less so at older ages or after improvements in air quality.”
“We observed negative associations between long-term NO2 exposure and reduced lung function among asthmatics, which is in line with some previous studies “
“Stronger effects with short-term variations in air pollution could suggest short-term reversibility, whereas associations with long-term concentrations may cause structural changes, potentially leading to a lower lung function plateau phase in young adults and an increased rate of lung function decline during adulthood.”
“This study did not identify associations between early-life or current long-term TRAP exposure and lung function variables at the age of 15 years in the complete study population.”
“Among asthmatics, we found associations with current long-term air pollution exposures, especially NO2, and lung function.”