Traffic related air pollution and development and persistence of asthma and low lung function

Gayan Bowatte, Caroline J. Lodge, Luke D. Knibbs, Bircan Erbas, Jennifer L. Perret, Bin Jalaludin, Geoffrey G. Morgan, Dinh S. Bui, Graham G. Giles, Garun S. Hamilton, Richard Wood-Baker, Paul Thomas, Bruce R. Thompson, Melanie C. Matheson, Michael J. Abramson, E. Haydn Walters, Shyamali C. Dharmage

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Background and aims: Traffic Related Air Pollution (TRAP) exposure is known to exacerbate existing respiratory diseases. We investigated longer term effects of TRAP exposure for individuals with or without existing asthma, and with or without lower lung function. Methods: Associations between TRAP exposure and asthma (n = 689) and lung function (n = 599) were investigated in the prospective Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS). TRAP exposure at age 45 years was measured using two methods based on residential address: mean annual NO2 exposure; and distance to nearest major road. Adjusted multinomial logistic regression was used to model the association between exposure to TRAP at 45 years and changes in asthma and lung function, using three follow ups of TAHS (45, 50 and 53 years). Results: For those who never had asthma by 45, living <200 m from a major road was associated with increased odds of new asthma that persisted from 50 to 53 years (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR] 5.20; 95% CI 1.07, 25.4). Asthmatic participants at 45 had an increased risk of persistent asthma up to 53 years if they were living <200 m from a major road, compared with asthmatic participants living >200 m from a major road (aOR = 5.21; 95% CI 1.54, 17.6). Conclusion: For middle aged adults, living <200 m for a major road (a marker of TRAP exposure) influences both the development and persistence of asthma. These findings have public health implications for asthma prevention strategies in primary and secondary settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Air pollution
  • Asthma
  • Cohort studies
  • Lung function

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