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Traffic pollutants may fuel adult asthma: study

Allergies • • AsthmaAug 05, 09

A new study provides more evidence that breathing in traffic-related pollutants is unhealthy—for kids and adults.

The study, report in the journal Thorax, suggests a link between asthma that develops in adulthood and increased exposure to traffic-related pollutants. Previous research linked childhood-onset asthma with traffic pollutants.

In the current study, researchers looked at associations between traffic-related air pollution and “new-onset” asthma among 2725 Swiss adults. None of them had ever smoked.

Over 11 years of follow up, 41 of the adults developed asthma.

The results showed that adults most impacted by traffic-related particles had “50 to 100 percent higher risks” of developing asthma, compared to those living at residences with low levels of traffic-related pollutants, study investigator Dr. Nino Kuenzli noted in an email to Reuters Health.

The association remained when the investigators allowed for other factors linked with the development of asthma such as workplace air pollutant exposures, passive smoking, family history of asthma or allergies, and whether or not participants had changed residence.

These findings suggest “toxic pollutants originating from traffic play a role in the development of adult asthma,” added Kuenzli, of the University of Basel in Switzerland.

The current findings are in line with an increasing body of evidence indicating traffic-related pollutants are a serious health problem. Therefore, Kuenzli suggests, “strong clear air policies are a must to protect public health.”

SOURCE: Thorax, August 2009

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