Association between particulate matter and respiratory symptoms in students in the municipality of Guachetá, Colombia




Students, coal mining, air pollution, cross-sectional studies, signs and respiratory symptoms


The purpose of this article was to establish the association between exposure to particulate matter and respiratory symptoms evaluated in students who remain in schools at the municipality of Guachetá (Colombia). This is a cross-sectional study conducted on children between 4 and 17 years old, in two schools in the municipality of Guachetá. During a period of 11 consecutive working days, using a personal sampling pump and a low-cost real-time sensor, concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 were measured. A survey was applied to a sample of 276 students, obtaining respiratory symptoms and general data. A prevalence ratio (PR) was estimated to show the possible association between exposure to particulate matter and respiratory symptoms. The school with the highest concentrations of particulate matter presented a possible association with all the respiratory symptoms evaluated in the school facilities, with a PR of 3.05 (95%CI:1.62-5.76) for cough, 1.85 (95%CI:1.06-3.24) for phlegm, 5.12 (95%CI:2.17-12.07) for shortness of breath, 3.83 (95%CI:2.07-7.10) for sneezing and 2.25 (95%CI:1.12-4.54) for dry nasal passages. In conclusion, children who are located in the school closest to a coke furnace and disrepair roads where heavy traffic circulates, are possibly associated with the presence of respiratory symptoms during their stay in the school facilities. For living in the urban area, cooking with firewood or charcoal, and living with smokers at home, a possible association with the evaluated respiratory symptoms was found.

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Author Biographies

Barbara J. Saavedra Bayona, Universidad Santo Tomás

Environmental Engineering School

Andrés Felipe Sepúlveda Villamil, Universidad Santo Tomás

Environmental Engineer

Ronal Jackson Sierra Parada, Universidad Santo Tomás

MSc, Geography, Surveyor Engineer

Luis Camilo Blanco Becerra, Universidad Santo Tomás

Msc, Science and Environmental Health, Environmental Engineer. Environmental Healt Subdirection


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How to Cite

Saavedra Bayona, B. J., Sepúlveda Villamil, A. F., Sierra Parada, R. J. ., & Blanco Becerra, L. C. (2021). Association between particulate matter and respiratory symptoms in students in the municipality of Guachetá, Colombia. Revista Facultad De Ingeniería Universidad De Antioquia, (104), 168–177.