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Assessment of association of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with bronchial asthma and oxidative stress in children: A case control study

Medknow Publications
Publication Date
DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.50722
  • Original Article
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Background: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) originate from the incomplete combustion of organic matter and ambient air pollution by these is increasing. There is also an increase in the global prevalence of asthma, for which environmental pollution has been recognized as one of the important factors. Exposure to pollutants and other allergens induces chronic airway inflammation by generation of reactive oxygen species, causing oxidative stress. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to assess association, if any, between exposure to PAH and asthma as well as oxidative stress in children. Method: In this hospital-based case control study, cases of bronchial asthma aged 1–14 years and healthy matched controls were included. Oxidative stress was measured by assessing the levels of enzymes catalase, superoxide dismutase, malondialdehyde (MDA), and reduced glutathione (GSH). Results: Forty-two cases and 20 controls were enrolled. Mean blood level of phenanthrene, a PAH, was 63.11 ppb ± 115.62 and 4.20 ppb ± 10.68 ppb in cases and controls, respectively (P = 0.02). Mean blood levels of GSH was significantly lower in cases and controls (27.39 μg/ml ± 11.09 versus 47.39 g/ml ± 13.83; P-value = 0.001). Likewise, mean blood level of MDA in nanomole/ml was significantly higher in asthma as compared with controls (12.85 ± 5.40 versus 8.19 ± 5.16; P-value = 0.002), suggestive of increased oxidative stress. Conclusions: Because elevated blood level of phenanthrene is associated with bronchial asthma as well as with oxidative stress, measures to reduce exposure to PAH may possibly lead to reduced incidence and severity of bronchial asthma.

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