No breathing space

Most comprehensive US study on air pollution indicative of a crisis

 
By Chirag Shah
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

the California Air Resources Board (carb) is gearing up for another environmental crusade. After defying the us Environmental Protection Agency by releasing a draft proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars, carb announced the findings of its 10-year-long study on children's health on June 24, 2004. The us $18 million study, 'Epidemiologic investigation to identify chronic health effects of ambient air pollutants in southern California', is usa's first large-scale effort to study the effects of air pollution on children.

During the study, researchers from the University of Southern California studied 5,500 children from 52 schools of southern California. Outdoor pollution monitoring was undertaken to track levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, acid vapour and particulate matter. Limited indoor pollution measurements were also taken in schools and homes. During each spring, the lung function of each child was tested. Questionnaires were used for collecting annual information about respiratory symptoms and diseases, physical activity, time spent outdoors, and factors such as parental smoking and mould and pets in the houses.

As per the findings, significant lung function deficits were most closely associated with exposure to nitrogen dioxide, atmospheric acidity and fine and coarse pollutant particles. Active children living in areas having high ozone concentration were found to be up to three times more likely to develop asthma. Furthermore, short-term exposures to elevated ozone levels were associated with an increase in school absences (1.3 million days per year for 5,500 kids). As per the researchers, the findings will guide public health policy of the state.

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