Woodsmoke and Children's Health: Findings From the Border Air Quality Study : Epidemiology

Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Abstracts: ISEE 22nd Annual Conference, Seoul, Korea, 28 August–1 September 2010: Outdoor Air Pollution From Residential Wood Combustion and Associated Health Effects

Woodsmoke and Children's Health: Findings From the Border Air Quality Study

Brauer, Michael1; Karr, Catherine2; MacIntyre, Elaina1; Clark, Nina1; Su, Jason3; Baribeau, Anne-Marie1; Tamburic, Lillian1; Lencar, Cornel1; Demers, Paul1; Buzzelli, Michael4; Larson, Timothy2

Author Information
doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000392250.44531.25
  • Free



Residential wood combustion is an important and relatively unregulated contributor to ambient air pollution in both urban and rural areas of many temperate climates. Despite the importance of this source, little research has evaluated the impact of woodsmoke on health, especially in urban areas. Here, we present findings regarding woodsmoke health impacts from the Border Air Quality Study, a population-based study conducted in southwestern British Columbia, Canada.


Using a previously described (spatial) land use regression model for woodsmoke particulate matter combined with a temporal model predicting woodsmoke from heating degree days, we evaluated impacts on several measures of children's health including small for gestational age birth, infant bronchiolitis, otitis media, and childhood asthma.


Increased woodsmoke exposure (adjusted for covariates relevant to each specific outcome) was associated with increased risks for clinical care visits for bronchiolitis and otitis media, but not for small for gestational age or incident asthma. Woodsmoke exposure was characterized as the number of days with woodsmoke present for those residing in woodsmoke areas, as specified by the spatiotemporal model. For bronchiolitis, an interquartile range increase (45 days) in the number of woodsmoke exposure days in the first year of life (2–12 months) was associated with an odds ratio of 1.08 (1.04–1.11) for a bronchiolitis outpatient visit or hospitalization. For otitis media, an interquartile range increase (16 days) in woodsmoke exposure days in the 2 months prior to an otitis media outpatient visit was associated with an odds ratio of 1.32 (1.27–1.36).


These observations of associations between woodsmoke exposure and 2 pathogen-mediated diseases may represent causal links consistent with toxicological effects of woodsmoke on respiratory health or may be an artifact due to the strong temporal correlation between woodburning and these highly time-varying diseases whose incidence tends to peak in winter

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.