Asthma is a serious problem for many Americans, with about 20 million people having had an asthma attack. One of the most concerning things about asthma, is that there is no cure.
During an asthma attack, someone’s airways become constricted with mucous and it becomes difficult to breathe. An asthma attack isn’t a very light matter because an asthma attack can kill. Over 5000 people die every year from an asthma attack.
Asthma not only has the possibility to injure people, but it also puts life on hold. Every year, kids stay home from school a total of 14 million days, due to asthma. Adults stay home from work, 12 million days a year.
Since asthma is such a serious condition, one of the most important things to do is to find out what causes it in order to prevent it, or to stay away from what makes it worse.
Studies have shown that living in big cities with a lot of air pollution may be one of the causes for asthma.
Air Pollution like Ground Level Ozone or Smog May Cause Asthma
One of the disadvantages of living in big cities is the constant air pollution from traffic.
Recent studies show that air pollution may cause asthma by producing ground level ozone, a type of toxin. Ozone is produced when pollution from tailpipes of cars and trucks react to oxygen and sunlight. Big cities like Los Angeles and Houston tend to be the biggest risk for ground level ozone.
The California Air Resources Board did a recent with big cities in Southern California. They found that children living there were more likely to develop asthma than children that lived in smaller communities with less air pollution.
The Effects of Air Pollution On Cell Function
A recent study was done in Fresno, California and Palo Alto, California, to show that air pollution may cause asthma and effect cell function.
Fresno was specifically selected because it’s located in California’s central valley. In the valley, high traffic and heavy agriculture mixes with the air, producing some of the worst levels of air pollution in the country. Palo Alto was also selected because the pollution was lower and they could compare the two cities.
What the result of being exposed to too much air pollution?
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution in Fresno, California, had the their immune system’s T Cells suppressed. They found a link between having their immune system suppressed with more severe asthma symptoms and having lowered lung capacity. The children in Palo Alto had significantly better functioning T Cells and less problems with asthma
Dr. Ira Tager, a professor of epidemiology at UC Berkley’s School of Public Health, led the investigation. Afterwards, he stated “there are people who still question the direct link between air pollution and human health, but these findings make the health impacts of pollutants harder to deny.”
How Allergies Symptoms Can Be Decreased
Many studies strongly suggest that air pollution in big cities causes asthma. However, someone who suffers from asthma isn’t completely without hope.
Dr. David Peden, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and is the director of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology gives some really helpful tips.
He suggests that its better to exercise in the morning instead of the afternoon because between 4:00 p.m – 5:00 p.m is when ozone pollution peaks, while it’s lower in the early morning.
He also suggests changing your workouts, because breathing fast will cause someone to experience more negative effects from air pollution. Some people in big cities like to go out for a run. He suggested considering a fast walk instead of running.
He also says, that the air is usually worst at or near the freeways, so it would be good to avoid them if possible. Some people believe that air conditioning in a car can offset it, but he says it actually makes things worse because more air will be pulled in.
Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: Study by UNC
Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: Fresno, CA study
Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: The NRDC
Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: California Environmental Protection Agency