The adverse effects of fine particle air pollution on respiratory function in the elderly

Jong Tae Lee, Ji Young Son, Yong Sung Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


There is increasing concern that airborne particles are critical risk factors for adverse health conditions in susceptible populations. The objective of this panel study is to investigate an association between particulate matter and the peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) in the elderly and to compare estimated risks using PM10 or PM2.5 levels as a measure of exposure. During a 2-year longitudinal follow-up study, we contacted subjects living in an asylum for the elderly, provided them with a mini-Wright peak flow meter, and instructed to record all the flow readings, any respiratory symptoms, passive smoking activity, and hours spent outdoors for that given day. Daily levels of particulate matter were measured by two separate mini-volume air samplers (for PM10 and PM2.5) placed on the rooftop of the two-story residence asylum building. In our statistical models, we assumed that the expected response varied linearly for each participant with a slope and intercept that depended on fixed or time-varying covariates using a mixed linear model. The daily mean levels of PM10 and PM2.5 were 78 μg/m3 and 56 μg/m3, respectively. For every 10 μg/m3 increase in PM10 and PM2.5 levels, there was an estimated PEFR change of - 0.39 l/min (95% CI, - 0.63, - 0.14) and - 0.54 l/min (95% CI, - 0.89, - 0.19), respectively. These data also suggest that fine particles have a more adverse respiratory health impact for sensitive individuals such as the elderly and that more research and control strategies should focus on the smaller particles associated with air pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-36
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Oct 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Air pollution
  • Fine particle
  • Mixed linear model
  • PEFR
  • The elderly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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