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Acrolein and Asthma Attack Prevalence in a Representative Sample of the United States Adult Population 2000 – 2009
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    Background

    Acrolein is an air toxic and highly potent respiratory irritant. There is little epidemiology available, but US EPA estimates that outdoor acrolein is responsible for about 75 percent of non-cancer respiratory health effects attributable to air toxics in the United States, based on the Agency's 2005 NATA (National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment) and acrolein's comparatively potent inhalation reference concentration of 0.02 µg/m3.

    Objectives

    Assess the association between estimated outdoor acrolein exposure and asthma attack reported by a representative cross-sectional sample of the adult United States population.

    Methods

    NATA 2005 chronic outdoor acrolein exposure estimates at the census tract were linked with residences oif adults (≥18 years old) in the NHIS (National Health Interview Survey) 2000 – 2009 (n = 271,348 subjects). A sample-weighted logistic regression model characterized the association between the prevalence of reporting at least one asthma attack in the 12 months prior to survey interview and quintiles of exposure to outdoor acrolein, controlling for potential confounders.

    Results

    In the highest quintile of outdoor acrolein exposure (0.05 – 0.46 µg/m3), there was a marginally significant increase in the asthma attack pOR (prevalence-odds ratio [95% CI]  = 1.08 [0.98∶1.19]) relative to the lowest quintile. The highest quintile was also associated with a marginally significant increase in prevalence-odds (1.13 [0.98∶1.29]) in a model limited to never smokers (n = 153,820).

    Conclusions

    Chronic exposure to outdoor acrolein of 0.05 – 0.46 µg/m3 appears to increase the prevalence-odds of having at least one asthma attack in the previous year by 8 percent in a representative cross-sectional sample of the adult United States population.

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