Personal and household PM2.5 and black carbon exposure measures and respiratory symptoms in 8 low- and middle-income countries
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BACKGROUND: Household air pollution (HAP) from cooking with solid fuels has been associated with adverse respiratory effects, but most studies use surveys of fuel use to define HAP exposure, rather than on actual air pollution exposure measurements. OBJECTIVE: To examine associations between household and personal fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon (BC) measures and respiratory symptoms. METHODS: As part of the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology Air Pollution study, we analyzed 48-h household and personal PM2.5 and BC measurements for 870 individuals using different cooking fuels from 62 communities in 8 countries (Bangladesh, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe). Self-reported respiratory symptoms were collected after monitoring. Associations between PM2.5 and BC exposures and respiratory symptoms were examined using logistic regression models, controlling for individual, household, and community covariates. RESULTS: The median (interquartile range) of household and personal PM2.5 was 73.5 (119.1) and 65.3 (91.5) μg/m3, and for household and personal BC was 3.4 (8.3) and 2.5 (4.9) x10-5 m-1, respectively. We observed associations between household PM2.5 and wheeze (OR: 1.25; 95%CI: 1.07, 1.46), cough (OR: 1.22; 95%CI: 1.06, 1.39), and sputum (OR: 1.26; 95%CI: 1.10, 1.44), as well as exposure to household BC and wheeze (OR: 1.20; 95%CI: 1.03, 1.39) and sputum (OR: 1.20; 95%CI: 1.05, 1.36), per IQR increase. We observed associations between personal PM2.5 and wheeze (OR: 1.23; 95%CI: 1.00, 1.50) and sputum (OR: 1.19; 95%CI: 1.00, 1.41). For household PM2.5 and BC, associations were generally stronger for females compared to males. Models using an indicator variable of solid versus clean fuels resulted in larger OR estimates with less precision. CONCLUSIONS: We used measurements of household and personal air pollution for individuals using different cooking fuels and documented strong associations with respiratory symptoms.