When Air Pollution Worsens, So Does Children's Asthma

Article excerpt

Byline: BEEZY MARSH

AIR pollution can be directly linked to the number of asthma attacks suffered by children, say experts.

Increases in levels of traffic and industrial fumes are responsible for corresponding rises in the number of asthmatic youngsters needing to visit the doctor, according to an alarming study.

Despite growing concerns and a doubling in the number of children with the condition, this is the first time scientists have found a direct connection between asthma and air quality.

A Dutch study has already shown that one in four children prone to developing allergies and wheeziness were likely to suffer worse problems at times when air pollution was bad.

The latest research comes from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in conjunction with St George's Hospital Medical School, both in London.

Researchers analysed the daily GP consultations from 47 London practices between 1992 and 1994.

When concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide - produced by traffic and industrial plants - were high, more children sought their doctor's help for asthma relief.

The experts also found children may not suffer the full effects of exposure to pollution until two days after it has occurred, so youngsters who seem to have symptoms under control may unexpectedly fall ill. The study - published in the latest edition of Thorax, the journal of the British Thoracic Society - also indicates children are more at risk from lung-damaging pollutants during the summer because different poisons are present in the air during different seasons. …