Associations of exposure to nitrogen oxides with prevalent asthma and other atopic diseases in Israel

Ruth Lev Bar-Or, Ilan Levy, Gilad Twig, David M. Broday, Andrey Lyubarsky, Estela Derazne, Dorit Tzur, Ben Simon, Noam Levin, Alex Gileles-Hillel, Lea Bentur, Raanan Raz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Childhood exposure to nitrogen oxides (NOx) is considered a risk factor for the onset of asthma. However, associations of this exposure with other atopic diseases and factors that modify this association are less clear. We aimed to study associations between exposure to NOx and the prevalence of atopic diseases in Israeli adolescents using a cross-sectional design. The study population comprised all Israeli-born adolescents whose medical status was evaluated for mandatory military recruitment during 1967–2017 (n = 2,523,745), of whom 5.9% had prevalent asthma. We based the exposure assessments on a land-use regression model and estimated associations using multivariable logistic regression models. Across all periods, mean exposure to NOx from birth to adolescence was associated with prevalent asthma at the examination in a dose-response manner, with an odds ratio for the upper quintile of 1.61 (95% CI: 1.56–1.67), in comparison to the lowest quintile. Associations were stronger in males and in lower socioeconomic strata. We found the strongest associations for asthma with comorbid rhinitis, with an almost twofold increase in the odds of upper versus lower quintile of exposure (odds ratio = 1.96, 95% CI: 1.82–2.11). Rhino-conjunctivitis and allergic atopic dermatitis suggested a possible threshold level with NOx. Capsule Summary: Research indicates that half of the global population will suffer from an allergic condition at some point in life. Childhood exposure to nitrogen oxides is a risk factor for the onset of asthma. The association between exposure and allergic diseases other than asthma is unclear. We demonstrate a strong, dose-response relationship between exposure and a group of allergic outcomes, using data comprising 2.5 million subjects over 50 years. The large health benefits from clean air should motivate governments to prioritize mitigation measures.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number110
JournalEnvironments - MDPI
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Air pollution
  • Allergic atopic dermatitis
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Atopic diseases
  • Epidemiological study
  • NOx
  • Rhino-conjunctivitis


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