Effects of Atmospheric Pollutants on Children Asthma Outbreaks

Ben Zion Garty2, Evsey Kosman1, Eliezer Ganor3, Niv Alon2, Neta Kibilis2, Joseph Garty2, Marc Mimouni2, Yoav Waise*, 1
1 Department of Plant Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
2 Kipper Institute of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, and Pediatric Emergency Department, Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, Petah Tiqva, Israel
3 Dept of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Israel

© 2009 Garty et al;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Plant Sciences, TAU, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel; Tel: 972-3-640 9189; E-mail:


The effects of air pollutants, weather conditions, airborne pollen and spores on the incidence of emergency room (ER) visits of children for acute asthma attacks were investigated.

One-year retrospective study was done. Data on daily concentrations of air pollutants, airborne allergens and weather conditions were collected and compared with the ER visits of 2431 asthmatic children (age 1-18 years) in the Schneider Medical Center, near Tel Aviv.

ER visits of asthmatic children showed a negative correlation with the measured O3 concentrations and with extreme ambient temperatures. A positive correlation was found with high barometric pressure with NO2 and SO2 concentrations. An exceptionally high incidence of ER visits of asthmatic children was observed during September, coinciding with the beginning of the school year. When September was excluded from the annual calculations the correlation between ER visits and environmental factors increased. 49% of the variance of ER visits were explained by O3 alone, 46% by NO2 alone, 54% by O3+NO2, and 31% by weather parameters. 58% of the variation was explained by the combination of air pollutants and weather parameters. Airborne particulates did not show any meaningful correlation with ER visits.

The major factors associated with severe asthma attacks were high NO2 and SO2. The negative correlation with O3 implies that at certain concentrations, O3 may have a beneficial effect. The particularly high number of ER visits at the beginning of the school year was presumably associated with an increase in viral infections combined with emotional stresses.