Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Diesel exhaust fumes affect people with asthma, finds study on London's Oxford Street

06.12.2007
Diesel exhaust fumes on polluted streets have a measurable effect on people with asthma, according to the first study looking at exhausts and asthma in a real-life setting, published on 6 December in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The new study looked at the effects on 60 people with mild and moderate asthma of walking along the western end of busy Oxford Street in London, where only diesel-powered taxis and buses are permitted.

The researchers, from Imperial College London, the New Jersey School of Public Health, and other international institutions, found that both during and after a two hour walk along Oxford Street, the test volunteers experienced increased asthmatic symptoms, reduced lung capacity, and inflammation in the lungs. It took a few hours for these to return to their normal levels.

The researchers confirmed their results by comparing how the same people were affected by a two hour walk in the traffic-free, western part of London's Hyde Park. Here, the volunteers experienced some of the same problems but to a far lesser degree.

This is the first study to investigate in a real-life setting, outside of the laboratory, if traffic fumes make symptoms worse for people with asthma. Two thirds of people with asthma believe this to be the case, according to Asthma UK.

The researchers believe that diesel exhausts cause problems for people with asthma because of the particulates - minute particles of dust, dirt, soot and smoke - which they release into the air. Particulates come in different sizes but those of less than 2.5 microns, and the tiniest "ultra fine" ones, can interfere with the respiratory system, because they are so tiny that they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. Ultra fine particles can also be absorbed in the blood, which may have damaging effects.

The researchers found a correlation between the level of diesel exhaust particulates at street level during the two walks and reductions in lung capacity and increases in lung inflammation in the volunteers.

Diesel engines emit lower concentrations of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide than petrol engines, but they can generate over 100 times more particles per distance travelled than similar sized petrol engines, and are major contributors to particulate pollution in the atmosphere. Previous studies have shown that in urban environments, almost 90 per cent of traffic-generated particulate matter is from diesel exhausts.

Professor Fan Chung, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the study, said: "Our study illustrates the need to reduce pollution in order to protect people's health. For the first time we are able to measure exactly what's happening inside the lungs of people with asthma when they spend only a couple of hours strolling in a real-life polluted area. By observing the effect of pollutant diesel particles on the lung surfaces, we can confirm that such an exposure causes inflammation in the lungs of asthmatic people.

"Our study should not necessarily deter asthmatic people from venturing into Oxford Street, but different measures to reduce the levels of pollution, and to protect the lungs of asthmatic people from the effects of pollution, should be considered," added Professor Chung.

The researchers measured air quality in the study areas and found more than three times as many ultra fine particles on Oxford Street compared with Hyde Park (65,229 pt/cc vs 18,298 pt/cc). The researchers also found that Oxford Street had more than three times as much nitrogen dioxide in the air (80.8 vs 20.9 micrograms per cubic metre) and six times as much elemental carbon (12.4 vs 2.0 micrograms per cubic metre).

The researchers measured lung function; symptoms; exhaled nitric oxide and condensate from the breath; bronchial reactivity; sputum and blood. They took measurements before, during and after the volunteers' walks.

While the changes that were reported in their study were relatively modest, the researchers would now like to investigate the cumulative effects of exposure to these diesel fumes over time and to look at the effects of pollution on other conditions such as cardiovascular disease. They also want to look into whether the treatments currently available to combat asthma are able to reduce the effects of exposure to diesel exhausts on the lungs, for example by analysing if it is possible to reduce these effects by using an inhaler or tablets before going for a walk in a polluted area.

Professor Chung is a Principal Investigator in the MRC-Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma at Imperial College London and King's College London, which was set up in 2005 to tackle severe asthma caused by allergies. The study was supported by the Health Effects Institute in Boston.

Laura Gallagher | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk
http:// www.mrc.ac.uk

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

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: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>