Although outdoor particulate matter (PM) has been linked to mortality and asthma morbidity, the impact of indoor PM on asthma has not been well established.
This study was designed to investigate the effect of in-home PM on asthma morbidity.
For a cohort of 150 asthmatic children (2–6 years of age) from Baltimore, Maryland, a technician deployed environmental monitoring equipment in the children’s bedrooms for 3-day intervals at baseline and at 3 and 6 months. Caregivers completed questionnaires and daily diaries during air sampling. Longitudinal data analyses included regression models with generalized estimating equations.
Children were primarily African Americans (91%) from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and spent most of their time in the home. Mean (± SD) indoor PM2.5–10 (PM with aerodynamic diameter 2.5–10 μm) and PM2.5 (aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 μm) concentrations were 17.4 ± 21.0 and 40.3 ± 35.4 μg/m3. In adjusted models, 10-μg/m3 increases in indoor PM2.5–10 and PM2.5 were associated with increased incidences of asthma symptoms: 6% [95% confidence interval (CI), 1 to 12%] and 3% (95% CI, –1 to 7%), respectively; symptoms causing children to slow down: 8% (95% CI, 2 to 14%) and 4% (95% CI, 0 to 9%), respectively; nocturnal symptoms: 8% (95% CI, 1 to 14%) and 6% (95% CI, 1 to 10%), respectively; wheezing that limited speech: 11% (95% CI, 3 to 19%) and 7% (95% CI, 0 to 14%), respectively; and use of rescue medication: 6% (95% CI, 1 to 10%) and 4% (95% CI, 1 to 8%), respectively. Increases of 10 μg/m3 in indoor and ambient PM2.5 were associated with 7% (95% CI, 2 to 11%) and 26% (95% CI, 1 to 52%) increases in exercise-related symptoms, respectively.
Among preschool asthmatic children in Baltimore, increases in in-home PM2.5–10 and PM2.5 were associated with respiratory symptoms and rescue medication use. Increases in in-home and ambient PM2.5 were associated with exercise-related symptoms. Although reducing PM outdoors may decrease asthma morbidity, reducing PM indoors, especially in homes of inner-city children, may lead to improved asthma health.