It is not known whether exposure to air pollutants causes systemic oxidative stress in children. We investigated the association between exposure to air pollution and biomarkers of oxidative stress in relation to a governmental air quality intervention implemented during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. We studied 36 schoolchildren during 5 time periods before and during the Olympic Games in Beijing (June 2007-September 2008). The oxidative stress biomarkers 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) and malondialdehyde were measured in urine samples collected daily during each period. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the relationship between repeated biomarker measurements and ambient air pollutant levels. During the Olympic intervention period, substantial reductions in air pollution (-19% to -72%), urinary 8-oxodG concentrations (-37.4%; 95% confidence interval: -53.5, -15.7), and urinary malondialdehyde concentrations (-25.3%; 95% confidence interval: -34.3, -15.1) were found. Malondialdehyde and 8-oxodG were significantly associated with concentrations of black carbon, fine particulate matter with an aerodynamic with diameter less than 2.5 μm, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Biomarker changes per each interquartile-range increase in pollutants were largest at lag 0 or lag 1. In a 2-pollutant model, the most robust associations were for black carbon. These findings suggest that exposure to black carbon leads to systemic oxidative stress in children.
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