Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Teens in smoggy areas at high risk for starting adulthood with serious lung deficits

09.09.2004


USC study in NEJM signals likely future health problems



By age 18, the lungs of many children who grow up in smoggy areas are underdeveloped and will likely never recover, according to a study in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research is part of the Children’s Health Study, the longest investigation ever into air pollution and kids’ health. Between 1993 and 2001, study scientists from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California tracked levels of major pollutants in 12 Southern California communities while following the pulmonary health of 1,759 children as they progressed from 4th grade to 12th grade. The 12 communities included some of the most polluted areas in the greater Los Angeles basin, as well as several low-pollution sites outside the area.


Keck School researchers previously found that children who were exposed to more air pollution scored more poorly on respiratory tests. In this latest study, researchers analyzed the same children’s respiratory health at age 18, when lungs are almost completely mature. "Teenagers in smoggy communities were nearly five times as likely to have clinically low lung function, compared to teens living in low-pollution communities," explains W. James Gauderman, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School and lead author of the study. People with clinically low lung function have less than 80 percent of the lung function expected for their age-a significant deficit that would raise concerns during a doctor’s exam.

"When we began the study 10 years ago, we had no idea we would find effects on the lung this serious," says John Peters, M.D., Hastings Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, director of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, and senior author of the study.

Study technicians traveled to participating schools every year and tested children’s lung function, a measure of how well their lungs work. As an example, someone with sub-par lung function cannot exhale and blow up a balloon as quickly or as big as someone with good lung function could.

Researchers correlated the students’ lung health measurements with levels of air pollutants monitored in the communities during the same time period. They found greater deficits in lung development in teenagers who lived in communities with higher average levels of nitrogen dioxide, acid vapor, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (about a tenth the diameter of a human hair) and elemental carbon. "These are pollutants that all derive from vehicle emissions and the combustion of fossil fuels," says Gauderman.

Deficits in lung function have both short- and long-term effects. "If a child or young adult with low lung function were to have a cold, they might have more severe lung symptoms, or wheezing," Gauderman says. "They may have a longer disease course, while a child with better lung function may weather it much better." And potential long-term effects are more alarming. "Low lung function has been shown to be second only to smoking as a risk factor for all-cause mortality," Gauderman explains.

Lung function grows steadily as children grow up, peaking at about age 18 in women and sometime in the early 20s in men. Lung function stays steady for a short time and then declines by 1 percent a year throughout adulthood. As lung function decreases to low levels in later adulthood , the risk of respiratory diseases and heart attacks increases.

Researchers are unsure how air pollution may retard lung development. Gauderman believes chronic inflammation may play a role, with air pollutants irritating small airways on a daily basis. Scientists also suspect that pollutants might dampen the growth of alveoli, tiny air sacs in the lungs.

The research team will continue to follow the study participants into their early 20s, when their lungs will mature and stop developing entirely. They seek to find out if the participants begin to experience respiratory symptoms and if those who moved away from a polluted environment show benefits.

Jon Weiner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>