Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and childhood asthma

Parisa Karimi, Kamau O. Peters, Katayoon Bidad, Paul T. Strickland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Asthma is the most common chronic illness in children living in developed countries and the leading cause of childhood hospitalization and school absenteeism. Prevalence rates of asthma are increasing and show disparities across gender, geographic regions, and ethnic/racial groups. Common risk factors for developing childhood asthma include exposure to tobacco smoke, previous allergic reactions, a family history of asthma, allergic rhinitis or eczema, living in an urban environment, obesity and lack of physical exercise, severe lower respiratory tract infections, and male gender. Asthma exacerbation in children can be triggered by a variety of factors, including allergens (e.g., pollen, dust mites, and animal dander), viral and bacterial infections, exercise, and exposure to airway irritants. Recent studies have shown that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a major component of fine particulate matter from combustion sources, is also associated with onset of asthma, and increasing asthmatic symptoms. In this paper, we review sources of childhood PAH exposure and the association between airborne PAH exposure and childhood asthma prevalence and exacerbation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2015


  • Childhood asthma
  • Incidence
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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