Yuh-Chi Niou

Project title: Investigation of Children's Respiratory Symptoms due to Poor Indoor Air Quality in Sichuan, China

Degree: MS | Program: Occupational & Environmental Exposure Sciences (OEES) - no longer offered | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2010


China is one of the fastest developing nations in the world, with new high rises and new technologies being developed everyday. There is, however, still a great disparity between rural and urban areas. The purpose of my research is to look into an urbanization gradient of fuel sources, gas stoves vs. wood or coal, and its effects on indoor air quality and how this would correlate with children's lung health mainly in the form of asthma. The research was set on an urbanization gradient, moving from most rural areas to urban areas all within the Province of Sichuan, PR China. I hypothesize that there is an increase in respiratory illness from children in households with inadequate ventilations systems, and generally just from houses that utilize a wood/coal burning system vs. centralized gas or electric heating systems. In order to judge children lung health, health surveys were passed out to children in the 6th grade of elementary school. The questionnaires contained questions that were modified and translated to Chinese from the International studies of asthma and allergies in childhood surveys (ISSAAC). This study measured health symptoms of children along with measures of indoor-air pollution of the different sites and a means to validate survey answers about fuels used. Wood as a primary fuel source is found to cause a decrease in respiratory health of children in Sichuan. A lack of adequate ventilation is found to be associated with worse respiratory symptoms regardless of fuel type. Adding or designing a method to increase ventilation of areas burning fuel may decrease the short-term health effects of indoor air pollution.