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Impact of Air Pollution on the Children’s Health Near a Municipal Waste Incinerator

Rudnai, P*; Virágh, Z*; Varró, M J.*; Vaskövi, É*; Beregszászi, T*; Náray, M; Czitrovszky, A

ISEE/ISEA 2006 Conference Abstracts Supplement: Poster Abstracts: Abstracts

*National Institute of Environmental Health, “Fodor József” National Center for Public Health, Budapest. †Central Chemical Laboratory, “Fodor József” National Center for Public Health, Budapest. ‡Research Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest.


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To explore the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the environmental pollution caused by the municipal waste incinerator in Budapest and its impact on the health of school-children living in the neighborhood.

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The exposed area was the one around the incinerator and the control area was chosen in the outskirts of Budapest. In both areas an elementary school was chosen as a center of the area where the sampling instrument was placed. The concentration of particulate matter (PM10) and black smoke (BS) was measured in the daily 24-hour samples. The yearly mean concentrations of metals in the particulates were assessed by ICP-MS method using 24-hour samples collected every day for three weeks, 4 times a year evenly distributed in all the four seasons. All children visiting the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classes of these two schools were invited to participate in the study. The health status of the children was assessed partly by a questionnaire completed by the parents and partly by lung function measurements and determination of the eosinophilic cells in the nasal smear.

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The level of PM10 was about 10 microgram/m3 higher near the incinerator than in the control area, through the whole year. The BS level was also higher in the neighborhood of the incinerator than in the control area, especially during the non-heating period. Out of the measured metals, the concentration of lead was significantly higher in the incinerator area than in the control one. Zinc, manganese and nickel were also found in relatively high concentration but none of these metals exceeded the health limit values. The odds ratio adjusted to age and sex showed a 4.0 times higher risk of asthma diagnosed by a doctor near the incinerator than in the control area. Bronchitic symptoms occurred also more frequently in the polluted than in the control area.

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Our study showed significantly increased levels of particulates (PM10) and black smoke in both the heating and the non-heating periods. The day-to-day changes in the pollution level were not significantly different from each other. The difference in the level of air pollution between the two areas had rather a long-term trend. The difference in the respiratory health of children was also found to be related to long-term exposure rather than to short-term influences.

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The study was supported by the Hungarian Research and Development Programme and the EU INTERREG III.C. programme (op.No. 2E0040I).

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.