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Volatile Organic Compounds and Nonspecific Conjunctivitis: A Population-Based Study

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Volume: 13 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 237-242
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2012.07.0170
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Chia-Jen Chang1,2, Hsi-Hsien Yang 1,3, Chin-An Chang1, Hsien-Yang Tsai2

  • 1 Department of Applied Chemistry, Chaoyang University of Technology, Taichung 413, Taiwan
  • 2 Department of Ophthalmology, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Veterans Affairs Commission, Executive Yuan, Taichung 407, Taiwan
  • 3 Department of Environmental Engineering and Management, Chaoyang University of Technology, Taichung 413, Taiwan


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are present in both indoor and outdoor environments, and have the potential to adversely impact the health of all age groups of people that are exposed to them. This study examines and assesses the short-term effects of VOCs on nonspecific conjunctivitis. Data were collected from outpatient visits for nonspecific conjunctivitis in air-quality monitoring areas. Air quality data were collected from the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration’s air quality monitoring stations. To find the immediate and lag effects of VOCs, an area-specific, case-crossover analysis was performed and a meta-analysis with random effects was used to combine the area-specific results. The results show that toluene, m,p-xylene, o-xylene, propylene, and benzene had higher maximum incremental reactivity (MIR) values and concentrations in air than any of the other studied VOCs. These 5 VOCs also had the strongest short-term effects on outpatient visits for nonspecific conjunctivitis. The effect was strongest for toluene, and there was a 1.3% increase [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.4–2.2] for an interquartile range rise in concentration. The results showed no evident lag effects. This study, which combined and integrated VOC and ophthalmologic data to investigate associations between outpatient visits for nonspecific conjunctivitis and VOC levels, found that there was a correlation between these visits and the short-term effects of VOCs, suggesting possible causes for nonspecific conjunctivitis.


Volatile organic compounds Health effects Nonspecific conjunctivitis

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