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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 4574138, 10 pages
Research Article

Health Issues of Primary School Students Residing in Proximity of an Oil Terminal with Environmental Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds

1Mutagenesis Unit, IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Istituto Nazionale Ricerca sul Cancro, 16132 Genoa, Italy
2Clinical Epidemiology Unit, IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Istituto Nazionale Ricerca sul Cancro, 16132 Genoa, Italy
3Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, 16132 Genoa, Italy
4Epidemiology Unit, Azienda Sanitaria 3 Genovese, 16149 Genoa, Italy

Received 18 March 2016; Accepted 9 June 2016

Academic Editor: Peter P. Egeghy

Copyright © 2016 Massimo Cipolla et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Residential proximity to industrial sites has been associated with adverse effects on human health. Children are more susceptible to airborne environmental exposure because their immune and respiratory systems are still developing. This study aimed to investigate whether living close to an oil terminal in Genoa where there is higher VOCs exposure is associated with an increased rate of school absenteeism because of disease in primary school children. Five schools were chosen for the recruitment of children and students residing in the industrial site (A) were compared to those living in residential sites (B). Sixty-six of the 407 students involved in the project were also selected for VOC monitoring. Source apportionment was carried out by comparing profiles of VOCs; principal component analysis was performed to study the correlation between profiles, and Kriging interpolation model was used to extend profiles to all participants. The concentration means of total VOCs were significantly higher in the industrial areas compared to controls. Adjusting for potential confounders, children who lived in area A had a significantly higher risk of being absent from school due to sore throat, cough, and cold compared to controls. o-Xylene, which is dispersed during the industrial activity, showed clear evidence of a significant association with respiratory symptoms.