It is estimated that more than seven million children in the United States alone suffer from asthma, and the prevalence is highest in the inner cities and disproportionally affects minorities.
A new research effort led by the Yale School of Public Health seeks to identify the role of specific residential air pollutants and their sources on asthma morbidity in inner-city children with asthma. The randomized, double-blind intervention study will use an innovative portable air filtration device, which substantially and selectively reduces pollutants in homes where the risk is highest.
Indoor exposure to air pollutants is associated with an increased risk in asthma severity in children including a greater frequency in respiratory symptoms and medication use. Such pollutants originate from a variety of sources, e.g., traffic and second-hand smoke. Identification of specific pollutants and their source that are associated with asthma exacerbation will allow for targeted and cost-effective interventions.
The five-year study is funded with a $6.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
“We believe the results of our study will show us if reductions in certain kinds of indoor air pollution can result in reductions in asthma severity. This can lead to the development of cost-effective intervention strategies to reduce childhood asthma and potentially reduce the need for costly asthma treatment,” said lead researcher Dr. Brian P. Leaderer, Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health) and deputy dean of the Yale School of Public Health.
The study will seek to enroll 600 asthmatic children, ages 5 to 11 years old, living in inner city homes in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. The air-cleaner system, which employs several different filters, will be in homes for a period of 18 weeks. As part of the study, parents of the asthmatic child will be asked to keep a record of the child’s symptoms and medication use.
While some cases of asthma are believed to have genetic origins, researchers believe that many cases are due to living conditions and exposure to certain environmental substances such as pollution, pet dander, and mold.