Transcript: Children and Asthma -- Southern California: USC/UCLA Children's Center 3
DR. PHILIP LANDRIGAN: We know on the basis of very careful studies that pollutants in the air, in the ambient air, can cause asthma. We know that ozone, oxides of nitrogen, fine particulates, all contribute to asthma.
DR. JOHN PETERS: "Smog" is a word that combines smoke and fog, originally and was recognized shortly after the public transportation system in Southern California was dismantled, and large number of cars began to occupy the roads.
Smog consists of particles and gases, and the main ones that we measure and worry about are ozone as a gas, nitrogen dioxide as a gas, and particles from wearing-out tires, smoke coming out of stacks, tailpipe emissions, pollens.
There are hundreds of things in the smoggy air in Southern California.
DR. ROB MCCONNELL: The Children’s Health Study is a 10-year study of children, following them from fourth grade through the end of high school.
We are looking at children in 12 different communities inside and outside the air basin for Los Angeles, the large pool of air that we’re all exposed to here.
There are a variety of reasons to look at children as a study population for air pollution. They are less likely to be smoking; they are less likely to be in a job where they might be exposed to some chemical that might be harmful for their lungs.
PETERS: Children are outdoors more, so they’re exercising, so they’re breathing heavily and taking in more pollution.
MCCONNELL: Children’s lungs are still growing and they are growing fairly rapidly. Those lungs may be more susceptible to the effect of air pollution.
Almost 6,000 children total who are participating or have participated in the study, and we found that, in the communities with higher levels of particles and higher levels of nitrogen dioxide, that the children’s lungs grew more slowly.
They grew about 10 percent slower in the dirtier communities than in the cleaner communities.
PETERS: If we divided the population into asthmatics and nonasthmatics, we saw a clear relationship in the asthmatics that the more particles or the more NO2 that the asthmatics were exposed to, the higher the rates of chronic cough and phlegm.
MCCONNELL: Children who played three or more team sports, they were three to four times more likely to develop asthma if they lived in a high-ozone community than children who played no team sports.
It’d be unfortunate if people went away from this study thinking that children shouldn’t exercise, because in terms of weighing the risks, there is no question but that there are so many benefits to exercise that when there are high levels of air pollution, we can restrict children’s outside activity.
Most air pollution in Southern California is caused by moving vehicles.
Diesel differs from gasoline in that it’s a more complex mixture of fuel, and in general it’s a dirtier fuel than gasoline. When diesel burns, it creates large quantities of nitrogen dioxide. It also creates large quantities of particles.
If we want to reduce exposure to air pollution, then we need better mileage standards, and we need to reduce people’s reliance on automobiles, encouraging better mass transit.
TITLE: kqed.org/baywindow – More on the causes of asthma
DR. RICHARD JACKSON: Outdoor air pollution is bad for people with asthma. During the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, everyone was asked to take public transport. And we did.
And the city was twice the population, it was filled with people, very few cars in the streets -- air pollution levels dropped dramatically.
And during that same period of time, despite the doubling in population, we had 40 percent less people visiting emergency rooms and seeking care for their asthma.
© Light-Saraf Films 2002