Authors: Joyce Shirinde, Janine Wichmann & Kuku Voyi

Keyword: air pollution, air quality, South Africa, air pollution and health

SDG: SDG3, SDG11

BACKGROUND : Allergic rhinitis (AR) is an increasing and common condition affecting many people globally, especially children. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between the frequency of truck traffic and allergic rhinitis symptoms, rhinoconjunctivitis and hayfever among 13 to 14 year old school children in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng Province, South Africa. METHODS : In a cross-sectional study design, 3764 children from 16 randomly selected high schools were eligible to participate, 3468 completed the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase I questionnaire of which 3424 were suitable for analysis; the overall response rate was 92 %. Data were analysed using multilevel logistic regression analysis. RESULTS : The prevalence of self-reported rhinitis ever, current rhinitis rhinoconjunctivitis and hayfever was 52, 40, 21 and 37 % respectively. Rhinitis ever, current rhinitis and current rhinoconjunctivitis were significantly associated with the frequency of trucks passing near residences almost all day on weekdays, (OR 1.46 95 % CI: 1.16 ? 1.84), (OR 1.60 95 % CI: 1.24–2.02) and (OR 1.42 95 % CI: 1.09–1.84) respectively. No association was observed between truck traffic and hay fever in the multiple analyses. CONCLUSION : The study shows a high prevalence of allergic rhinitis symptoms amongst children. The results support the hypothesis that traffic related pollution plays a role in the prevalence of allergic rhinitis symptoms in children residing in the area.