To determine the effects of air pollution on the lung function of Filipino school children exposed to high and low concentration of total suspended particles (TSP)24-hour sampling average for 3 years (1996-1998) we studied 200 school children coming from two zones, Zone 1 with low or fair TSP (130.67 ug/Ncm) and Zone 2 with high or poor TSP (258.67 ug/Ncm). All the parents/guardians of the participating school children answered questionnaires regarding their history and respiratory symptomatology. These school children underwent physical examination and pulmonary function testing (baseline, post-bronchodilator, exercise challenge testing) and indices were compared between the two zones.
History of allergy, nasal congestion, parental atopy, use of gas in cooking and walking as a means of going to school was significantly higher among those in Zone 2 while sneezing, and transportation as a means of going to school were significantly higher among those in Zone 1. There was a significantly lower mean values in the baseline FEV1, FVC and MMEF and a higher percent change in MMEF observed among school children from Zone 2 than Zone 1. Postbronchodilator percent change ( CFEV1, CPEFR) and the exercise challenge tests (EXFEV1, EXPEFR) results showed no statistically significant differences between the two zones. Within each group, there were more school children in Zone 2 with a significant increase in MMEF post-bronchodilator. This study shows that school children exposed to a higher level of air pollution (258.67 ug/Ncm/24 hours TSP) have lower baseline spirometric findings and evidence of increased airway hyperresponsiveness post-bronchodilator. The Clean Air Act may assist the government in its efforts to achieve a healthier environment and a cleaner air for our children to breathe but there is yet a need for a more intensive information and education campaign and a comprehensive, accurate and current emission inventory to provide a sound basis for air quality planning and control measures.