Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Smog May Cause Lifelong Lung Deficits

Date:
September 21, 2004
Source:
University Of Southern California
Summary:
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.

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 USC 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,” said W. James Gauderman, 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,” said John Peters, 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,” Gauderman said.

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 said. “They may have a longer disease course, while a child with better lung function may weather it much better.”

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 said.

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. The team seeks to find out if the participants begin to experience respiratory symptoms and if those who moved away from a polluted environment show benefits.

The California Air Resources Board, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Hastings Foundation supported the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Southern California. "Smog May Cause Lifelong Lung Deficits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040920070639.htm>.
University Of Southern California. (2004, September 21). Smog May Cause Lifelong Lung Deficits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040920070639.htm
University Of Southern California. "Smog May Cause Lifelong Lung Deficits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040920070639.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 23, 2014) The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within 4 Months

Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within 4 Months

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Health officials warn that without further intervention, the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could reach 1.4 million by January. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

AFP (Sep. 23, 2014) The number of Ebola infections will triple to 20,000 by November, soaring by thousands every week if efforts to stop the outbreak are not stepped up radically, the WHO warned in a study on Tuesday. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) No surprise here: A recent study says men can reduce their risk of heart attack by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes daily exercise. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins