Study in Thorax by Rumchev et al on childhood asthma and residential exposure to VOCs across seasons in Australia

Rumchev K, Spickett J, Bulsara M, Phillips M, Stick S. 2004. Association of domestic exposure to volatile organic compounds with asthma in young children. Thorax, 59: 746-751. This was a case-control study based on the metropolitan community– cases were from a hospital accident and emergency department and were not matched to controls– of Perth, Western Australia; the 88 cases were children 0.5-3 years old with primary diagnosis of asthma upon discharge, and the 104 controls were without diagnosed asthma. Parents answered a standardized questionnaire about their children’s health status and their homes. Quantitative measures of ten volatile organic compounds (in micrograms per cubic meter in indoor air of living room of each study subject’s home), and dust mites in floor dust (Der p 1), average temperature and relative humidity, were conducted in their winter and summer. Overall, homes of the asthmatic children had statistically significantly higher indoor air concentrations of total VOCs. In addition, certain VOCs (like benzene and toluene, which for example come from combustion of fuels or cigarettes and use of cleaning products/solvents like paints, respectively) were found to be statistically significant risk factors for childhood asthma prevalence. Also, the asthmatic children were statistically significantly more likely to be atopic, have at least one parent with diagnosed asthma, have a family history of asthma, and report various respiratory symptoms. For more information on VOCs and childhood asthma, please see CAFA’s science-based Briefing Kit fact sheets for more information at: //