In-home air pollution heightens asthma symptoms.

Dec 16, 2008

McCormack MC, PN Breysse, EC Matsui, NN Hansel, D Williams, J Curtin-Brosnan, P Eggleston and GB Diette. 2008. In-home particle concentrations and childhood asthma morbidity. Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.11770.

Synopsis by Michael D. Laiosa

A recent study confirms and broadens our understanding of asthma by showing the respiratory disease is highly affected by particulate matter.

For the first time, researchers report that asthma incidence and severity is associated with a specific type of indoor air pollution, referred to as course particulate matter. Specifically, the amounts of wheezing, slowing of a child’s activity and use of rescue medication were all elevated in children living in homes with more of this type of indoor air pollution.

The study examined inner city children in Baltimore, MD, who are primarily African-American. Researchers wanted to identify factors that could explain why inner city African Amerians have both a higher incidence rate and more severe asthma than in the general population.

In general, African-Americans are more likely than whites to live in regions of poor outdoor air quality, which translates into higher levels of indoor air pollutants that become trapped in poorly ventilated buildings with small, enclosed spaces. This is of particular concern because people spend the majority of their hours inside.

Current national guidelines call for reducing outdoor particulate matter levels in an effort to reduce asthma incidence. However, this paper suggests that reducing indoor particulate matter is of more immediate concern and with appropriate engineering improvements may be easier to accomplish.