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By: Jessica Hefes

Date: 9/8/10


Air pollution has been linked to the increase of asthma in children. In 12 California communities over three thousand children with no history of asthma were examined. The results showed that children who played in areas where there were high ozone levels were three times more likely to develop asthma than those in areas were the ozone levels were lower. [1]


A 2006 study has found that hospital admission for asthma in children below 18 was significantly associated with all five pollutants. It found that the admission rate increased by 5.64% for NO2, 3.67% for PM10, 3.24% for PM2.5 and 2.63% for O3. However SO2 had no effect after adjustment for multipollutant effects. [2] An inverse correlation between concentrations of SO2 and hospitalizations of 13,620 children for asthma has been found. [3] A strong correlation was found between quarterly mean total suspended particular matter and hospital-discharge rates for asthma in children aged 1 – 4, whilst an inverse correlation was found between quarterly mean total suspended particular matter and hospital-discharge rates for asthma in children aged 5 – 14. [4]


Individual components or pollutants may be responsible for asthma symptoms in young children, but airborne particles are not associated with wheeze or cough symptoms, raising questions about the best way to regulate air pollution to protect young children. [5]


It also appears that air pollution also impairs the relief of asthma. A study in Mexico has found that air pollution, which tends to inflame the airways in people with asthma, might also reduce the effectiveness of the rescue inhalers they count on for quick relief of their asthma symptoms. Higher levels of certain air pollutants, specifically nitrogen dioxide and ozone, made the rescue inhalers less effective, not because the devices didn't function properly, but because the children did not seem to respond as well to the medication. [6]


Footnotes

  1. Geography and your Children’s Health: a Worthy National Topic of Debate, May 2010 – last accessed 11/8/2010
  2. Association between air pollution and asthma admission among children in Hong Kong, Lee SL, Wong WHS, Lau YL, 2006,Clin Exp Allergy 36:1138–1146
  3. Low level atmospheric sulfur dioxide pollution and childhood asthma, Tseng RYM, Li CK, 1990,Ann Allergy 65 379–383
  4. Particulate air pollution and hospitalization for asthma, Tseng RYM, Li CK, Spinks JA, 1992, Ann Allergy 68:425–432
  5. Air Pollution Linked To Asthma In Young Children, Red Orbit, 17 December 2009
  6. Air pollution may lessen asthma inhaler benefits, Reuters, 28 December 2009 – last accessed 11/8/2010

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