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Indoor Pollution Worsens Asthma Symptoms in Children

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Indoor pollution and asthma

Study results from Johns Hopkins researchers; published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives show that indoor pollution from a variety of sources worsens asthma symptoms in children. Solid particles and liquid droplets from cooking, dusting, and other chemicals can penetrate deeply into the respiratory system, making childhood asthma symptoms worse.

The new research shows a direct link to asthma symptoms in children exposed to increased concentrations of indoor particular matter, both fine and coarse.

According to study co-author, Gregory B. Diette, MD, "Children spend nearly 80 percent of their time indoors, which makes understanding the effects of indoor air very important."

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Researchers from the Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment—a joint center of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine studied 150 children with asthma for six months. The children were age two to six.

During the study, the researchers measured air quality in children's bedrooms at three intervals over a period of three days. The results showed that for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air increase in coarse particular concentration, the children experienced a six percent increase in asthma symptoms of cough, wheezing and chest tightness. Rescue medication was needed for the children's asthma symptoms, corresponding to increased concentrations of indoor pollution. The study results also revealed that often, indoor pollution was double that established by the EPA for outdoor standards.

"Improving indoor air quality and lowering indoor particulate matter concentrations may provide additional means of improving asthma health, especially for children living in inner cities," says co-author, Patrick Breysse, PhD, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study is among the first to explore the effects of indoor pollution from particulate matter, and clearly shows that indoor pollution may be a greater threat to childhood asthma sufferers than outdoor pollution. The research results make it mandatory that children with asthma can experience worsening asthma symptoms from indoor pollution that comes from various chemicals and sources