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Keywords:

  • urban air pollution;
  • Sri Lanka;
  • respiratory health;
  • biomass fuel;
  • indoor air pollution

Abstract

Background

Health effects due to air pollution is becoming a major public health problem with growing traffic congestion and establishment of small- to medium-scale industries with poor emission controls in urban cities of Sri Lanka.

Methods

Respiratory health status of 7- to 10-year-old children in two settings (urban and semi-urban) was assessed using standard questionnaires. Information on socio-demographic characteristics and potential determinants of both outdoor and indoor air pollutants exposure levels were also obtained. The respiratory health status of children in the two settings was compared.

Results

We found that children from the urban setting had a significantly higher prevalence of wheezing within the last 12 months as compared to children from the semi-urban setting (adjusted OR = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.13–3.59). Indoor cooking with unclean fuels was a risk factor for wheezing independent of the area of residence (adjusted OR = 1.57; 95% CI = 1.01–2.46).

Conclusions

Poor indoor air quality was a major determinant of wheezing for the overall study group. Children from urban areas of Sri Lanka have poorer respiratory health status as compared to children from semi-urban areas. Besides poor outdoor air quality, this difference may also be due to other unexplored factors which may differ between urban and semi-urban areas in Sri Lanka. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:1137–1145, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.