Health Effects of Air Pollutants (Group 3)


Participants will be able to:

  1. List some health effects of the pollutant.
  2. Read and interpret selected data tables.
  3. Graph selected data sets.
  4. Report to the class.


I. Form working groups of three persons. Within each group, individuals will volunteer for particular tasks so that the group works as a team to complete the activity. The tasks are:

  • Facilitator for discussion (keeps the group focused on the questions)
  • Recorder (on a separate sheet of paper, writes the group’s answers to the questions)
  • Graphing specialist (draws graph for the group)

II. Read the summary of the research study.

  • Which of the criteria pollutants is considered here?
  • What are the health effects of that criteria pollutant?
  • What is serum cotinine?

III. Examine Table 2.What conclusions can you draw from these data?

IV. Create two separate bar graphs using data from Table 2.

  • One graph will show Blood Lead Level vs. Cotinine.
  • The other graph will show Blood Lead Level vs. Smokers At Home.

V. Choose three spokespersons to present your group’s report orally.One spokesperson will describe the research study. The second and third spokespersons will present the two graphs.

Summary of Research Study

Secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) is a major source of indoor air pollution world-wide, causing major health effects in children, including sudden infant death syndrome, lower respiratory tract infections, reduced lung growth, and behavioral problems. In the U.S., approximately 1 in 5 children aged 3-11 years live with at least 1 person who smokes. Lead is a major neurocognitive and kidney toxicant for children, at relatively low levels. Lead is found in tobacco and can be measured in mainstream smoke (exhaled by the smoker) and sidestream smoke (from the burning cigarette).

The researchers evaluated the relationship between SHS exposure (identified by the number of smokers in the home and by levels of serum cotinine) and blood lead levels in children aged 3 to 19 years. Serum cotinine is a biomarker of recent tobacco smoke exposure including exposure in the home, vehicles, and public places.


Blood Lead Levels in Children and Adolescents Aged 3-19 Years, by Secondhand Smoke Exposure Levels: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, United States, 1999-2004.

Number of Individuals Aged 3-19 Years / Blood Lead Level (µg/dL), Geometric Mean
Cotinine, µg/L
0.03 or less / 1538 / 0.91
0.031-0.074 / 1876 / 1.13
0.075-0.44 / 1804 / 1.31
0.441 or more / 1612 / 1.52
Smokers At Home
0 / 5484 / 1.12
1 / 929 / 1.46
2 or more / 417 / 1.56


CREDIT: Adapted from Apostolou, et. al., American Journal of Public Health, August 2011, pp. e1-e9.

12/28/13 pe