Asthma research conducted in the past half-century has focused primarily on indoor allergens and their effect on asthma sufferers. As it turns out, Scientists are just beginning to realize that outdoor air pollution has a significant, if not more profound, effect on asthma.
A recent study conducted by the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, recently studied the outdoor air pollution levels of 10 Southern California cities.
The researchers found that the closer children live to a freeway, the greater their chances of being diagnosed with asthma. In addition, they found that children were also more likely to develop asthma symptoms if the air around their homes had higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is a toxic pollutant emitted from the tailpipes of motor vehicles.
As a direct result of that study, the NIEHS has launched a new research program investigating and attempting to identify the genetic risk factors that predispose people to asthma. Using gene expression profiling, researchers will be screening thousands of genes in the hopes of identifying which of those genes are activated when a patient’s airways become obstructed or inflamed.
The goal of the study is to determine which genes make certain people susceptible to different types of asthma. It will attempt to explain why some people develop asthma living in and around urban centers, while others do not.
Read Catch Your Breath Now for more information on the effect of outdoor air pollutants on asthma.