Air Pollution Aggravates Genetic Susceptibility To Asthma

Traffic-related air pollution increases asthma risk among children with genetic variants that affect the lungs’ ability to clear toxins, researchers found.Traffic-related air pollution increases asthma risk among children with genetic variants that affect the lungs’ ability to clear toxins, researchers found.

The researchers correlated pollution exposure to genes for two enzymes — glutathione S-transferase (GSTP) and microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1) — involved in ridding the lungs of polyaromatic hydrocarbons produced by incomplete combustion of tobacco and fossil fuels.

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Asthma symptoms worsen by increased air pollution levels which include nitrogen oxide, particulates, sulfur dioxide and ozone. Asthma and air pollution irritate the airways directly.

Particulate matter exists in the air with traffic air pollution resulting in worsening of asthma. The particulate matter can be diesel exhaust particles, dust, sulfate aerosis, soot and fly ash. When a person breathes, these particles enter into the lungs and trigger asthma attacks. Factories, diesel vehicles and coal-fired power plants are the main sources of particulate air pollution.

Ground level ozone triggers asthma attacks and worsens the condition of asthma. When tailpipe pollution from trucks and cars reacts with sunlight and oxygen at ground level, ozone is produced. Ozone at ground level is a major problem in cities with lots of traffic.

Nitrogen oxide, which is emitted from power plants and tailpipes, contribute to the smog and ground level ozone formation. Nitrogen oxide also reacts with other air pollutants in forming small particles which cause breathing difficulties in people with asthma.

Traffic pollution and children with asthma:

Exposing to traffic pollution can cause serious childhood asthma attacks. Children who are exposed to nitrogen dioxide from vehicle exhaust, asthma attacks worsen. The lung function is reduced and symptoms are increased.

Children are mostly affected with air pollution because they have faster breathing rates, play outdoors, and their lungs are in developing condition.

Air pollution has same effect on asthmatic people as other asthma triggers. Air pollutants reduce the function of lungs by inflaming the lung linings. Exposure to air pollutants can cause flare ups and increases the chances of upper respiratory infections that worsens asthma.

How asthma can be prevented?

Environmental protection agency created Air Quality Index (AQI) which is used to monitor outdoor air quality. There is color coded system present which indicates when the air quality is dangerous for the child.

The information of air quality index varies from season to season, from day to day and from morning to evening. The information can be obtained from newspaper and weather reports. On days when the air quality is poor, asthma patient can stay indoors to avoid asthma attack.