Study Examines Risks from Air Pollution Exposure and Connections to Asthma Management

According to a study published in the July, 2014, edition of the journal Environmental Health, “evidence indicates that asthma attacks can be triggered by exposure to ambient air pollutants, however, detailed pollution information is missing from asthma action plans. Asthma is commonly associated with four criteria pollutants with standards derived by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Since multiple pollutants trigger attacks and risks depend upon city-specific mixtures of pollutants, there is lack of specific guidance to reduce exposure….This study [examined] the risks from exposure to the asthma-related pollutants in a large polluted metropolitan city and defines the city-specific association between attacks and pollutant mixtures. [The] goal is that city-specific pollution risks be incorporated into individual asthma action plans as additional guidance to prevent attacks.” The researchers found that in “Houston, ozone and nitrogen dioxide are important triggers….The risk attributed to these pollutants differs when they are considered together, especially as concentrations increase. Cumulative exposure for ozone (0-2 day lag) is of concern, whereas for nitrogen dioxide the concern is with single day exposure. Persons at highest risk are aged 46-66, African Americans, and males.” The authors conclude that “accounting for cumulative and concomitant outdoor pollutant exposure is important to effectively attribute risk for triggering of an asthma attack, especially as concentrations increase. Improved asthma action plans for Houston individuals should warn of these pollutants, their trends, correlation and cumulative effects. Our Houston based study identifies nitrogen dioxide levels and the three-day exposure to ozone to be of concern whereas current single pollutant based national standards do not.”

More information is available online.