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Extricating Sex and Gender in Air Pollution Research: A Community-Based Study on Cardinal Symptoms of Exposure
Social Science Centre, Department of Geography, Western University, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON N6A 5C2, Canada
Department of Geography, Western University, London, ON N6A 5C2, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 June 2013; in revised form: 25 July 2013 / Accepted: 9 August 2013 / Published: 22 August 2013
Abstract: This study investigated sex and gender differences in cardinal symptoms of exposure to a mixture of ambient pollutants. A cross sectional population-based study design was utilized in Sarnia, ON, Canada. Stratified random sampling in census tracts of residents aged 18 and over recruited 804 respondents. Respondents completed a community health survey of chronic disease, general health, and socioeconomic indicators. Residential concentrations of NO2, SO2, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and o/m/p-xylene were estimated by land use regression on data collected through environmental monitoring. Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis was used to identify variables that interacted with sex and cardinal symptoms of exposure, and a series of logistic regression models were built to predict the reporting of five or more cardinal symptoms (5+ CS). Without controlling for confounders, higher pollution ranks increased the odds ratio (OR) of reporting 5+ CS by 28% (p < 0.01; Confidence Interval (CI): 1.07–1.54). Females were 1.52 (p < 0.05; CI: 1.03–2.26) times more likely more likely to report 5+ CS after controlling for income, age and chronic diseases. The CART analysis showed that allergies and occupational exposure classified the sample into the most homogenous groups of males and females. The likelihood of reporting 5+ CS among females was higher after stratifying the sample based on occupational exposure. However, stratifying by allergic disease resulted in no significant sex difference in symptom reporting. The results confirmed previous research that found pre-existing health conditions to increase susceptibility to ambient air pollution, but additionally indicated that stronger effects on females is partly due to autoimmune disorders. Furthermore, gender differences in occupational exposure confound the effect size of exposure in studies based on residential levels of air pollution.
Keywords: gender; sex; air pollution; environmental health; occupational exposure; allergic disease; LUR; CART
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MDPI and ACS Style
Oiamo, T.H.; Luginaah, I.N. Extricating Sex and Gender in Air Pollution Research: A Community-Based Study on Cardinal Symptoms of Exposure. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 3801-3817.
Oiamo TH, Luginaah IN. Extricating Sex and Gender in Air Pollution Research: A Community-Based Study on Cardinal Symptoms of Exposure. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2013; 10(9):3801-3817.
Oiamo, Tor H.; Luginaah, Isaac N. 2013. "Extricating Sex and Gender in Air Pollution Research: A Community-Based Study on Cardinal Symptoms of Exposure." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 10, no. 9: 3801-3817.