City children at greater risk of asthma from air pollution – study
Youngsters who live in cities and urban settings may be more susceptible to asthma attacks brought on by air pollution, a new study suggest.
And even ‘moderate’ levels of ozone and fine airborne particulates – two key ingredients of what we know as ‘smog’ – seem to increase the risk of asthma attacks in children and teenagers, according to research in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.
The new study also linked the two pollutants to identifiable changes in the airways of children that could trigger an asthma attack, says Dr. Matthew Altman, an associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in Seattle, who led a team of researchers based across the USA.
This is one of the first times elevated levels of distinctive air pollutants in specific urban locations have been tied to the risk of asthma attacks. During an asthma attack, inflammation causes the lining of airways to swell as muscles around the airways contract and mucus floods the passages – all of which substantial narrow the space through which air passes in and out of the lungs.
‘Particularly high risk’
Children in low-income urban areas of the United States are at particularly high risk for asthma attacks, say the researchers.
Dr. Hugh Auchincloss, acting director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said: “The strong association this study demonstrates between specific air pollutants among children in impoverished urban communities and non-viral asthma attacks further augments the evidence that reducing air pollution would improve human health.”
The study included 208 children aged six to 17 with attack-prone asthma living in low-income neighborhoods in one of nine different U.S. cities. The researchers later validated their findings in a second group of 189 people aged six to 20 living in low-income areas of four U.S. cities.