Direct Evidence That Air Pollution Reduces Lung Function in Children
June 6 - In too many places in
There is extensive epidemiological, or population-level, evidence that indicates that exposure to air pollution is associated with reduced lung function and increases asthma attacks in children.Â While such population studies are useful in showing the association between air pollution and lung health, a new study has provided direct evidence of this effect in children.Â Researchers in the
In an article in today's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. N. Kulkarni and colleagues measured pollution levels in the outdoor air near children's homes.Â They measured how much air the children's lung could hold and how fast they could breathe it out. They also measured the carbon particle content in macrophages from sputum samples collected from healthy children.
Macrophages are cells that act like microscopic vacuum cleaners to help keep the lung clean by sucking up particles and digesting them.
The researchers found that increases in the amount of very small particles in the outdoor air caused a dose-dependent increase in carbon particles in the lungs and decrease in lung function.
"These findings are very useful to our efforts to reduce air pollution levels in
Many people in
Exposure can result in increased difficulty in breathing, more asthma and COPD problems and increased risk for heart attacks. People with existing lung or heart conditions, the very young and the elderly, are particularly at risk.
"The publication of this research further strengthens our understanding of the health effects of air pollution," said Kenneth Maybee, Vice President for Environmental Issues for the Canadian Lung Association. "People can take personal action to help protect their health by following the Air Quality Index announcements provided by local media. When the air quality is poor we recommend that you reschedule outdoor activities to a time when air quality is better.Â People affected by poor air quality should spend time in an indoor location that provides cleaner air, and seek medical help if their symptoms worsen."
Reference: Carbon in Airway Macrophages and Lung Function in Children
Neeta Kulkarni, Nevil Pierse, Lesley Rushton, and Jonathan Grigg
N Engl J Med 2006;355:21-30.
For more information contact:
President & CEO
Lung Association of
(306) 343-9640, ext. 222
Paul Van Look
Vice President of Health Education
Lung Association of Saskatchewan
(306) 343-9640, ext. 226
When you can't breathe, nothing else matters.