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Environmental factors that increase asthma risk and symptoms: studies

By Chow:(NaturalNews) A few studies published in 2013 have revealed various environmental factors which increase asthma risk as well as elevate the severity of its symptoms. These included exposure to traffic pollution, wood smoke, cleaning chemicals, as well as other materials at the workplace.

Diesel exhaust particles increased asthma symptoms in children

In a recent study, researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center discovered that exposure to diesel exhaust particles originating from traffic pollution raised the severity of asthma in children.

The study, which was published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, had looked at 235 asthmatic children and teenagers, associating their condition with their amount of diesel exposure; levels of exposure were estimated based on their residential address. Those with higher levels of exposure experienced more frequent symptoms.

The study team went one step further and looked at mice in the lab. Again, diesel exposure was found to aggravate the condition - mice which were exposed to both dust mites and diesel suffered more severe asthma than those which were only exposed to dust mites.

Traffic pollution and wood smoke worsened asthma symptoms in adults

Another study led by researchers from the University of Melbourne found that middle-aged asthmatics who were often exposed to heavy traffic pollution suffered marked worsening of their symptoms - a massive 80 percent increase in their asthma symptoms.

The study team had looked at 1,383 44-year-old adults who had taken part in the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study. The study subjects had self-reported their asthma symptoms and flare-ups during a one-year period as well as rated their exposure to traffic pollution.

In the same study, which was published in the journal Respirology, exposure to smoke from wood fire heaters was linked to an 11 percent increase in asthma symptoms.

"It is now recommended that adults who suffer asthma should not live on busy roads and that the use of old wood heaters should be upgraded to newer heaters, to ensure their health does not worsen," said Dr John Burgess of the School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne, a co-author of the study.

Certain occupations linked to increased asthma risk

Other studies released in 2013 linked elevated asthma risk to numerous occupations.

For example, a very small study presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona found that the use of argan powder during the industrial production of cosmetics increased asthma risk.

Another earlier study conducted by researchers from Imperial College London found that occupational asthma accounted for one out of every six cases of adult onset asthma, which was even more than the one-in-nine for smoking.

The study, which was published in the journal Thorax and had looked at 9,488 people, found 18 occupations which clearly increased asthma risk. Four were cleaning jobs while another three probably involved exposure to cleaning chemicals.

Other jobs implicated included farmers, hairdressers and printing workers, while other materials which were associated with higher asthma risk included enzymes, flour, metals and textiles. The study was funded by Asthma UK and the Colt Foundation.

"Occupational asthma is widely under-recognized by employers, employees and healthcare professionals. Raising awareness that this is an almost entirely preventable disease would be a major step in reducing its incidence," said Dr. Rebecca Ghosh of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London, who led the study.

A spokesperson from Asthma UK advised those who work in the said jobs and who have breathing issues to discuss the matter with their GP, and for healthcare professionals to ensure they consider possible occupational factors in adult onset asthma. Sources for this article include:

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (2013, September 23). Explaination for increased asthma severity in children exposed to diesel exhaust from traffic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from

University of Melbourne (2013, August 20). Traffic pollution and wood smoke increases asthma in adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from

European Lung Foundation (2013, September 9). Argan powder found in some cosmetics linked with occupational asthma. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from

Imperial College London (2013, January 21). Cleaning jobs linked to asthma risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from

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