Air Pollution Linked to Reduced Lung Function

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2002

LOS ANGELES, California, July 1, 2002 (ENS) - Children living in smoggy
areas have reduced lung function, show new findings from the University of
Southern California led Children's Health Study.
Air pollution, particularly acid vapor, slows the growth of lung function in
kids, the study suggests. Lung function is a medical term describing lung
capacity and how well lungs are working.

The 10 year long Children's Health Study is considered one of the nation's
most comprehensive studies to date of the long term effects of smog on
children. The new findings address the development of lung function in
children, showing that lung function growth of kids in polluted areas lags
behind that of children in areas with cleaner air.

"These findings are an important confirmation of our earlier studies," said
Dr. W. James Gauderman, associate professor of preventive medicine at USC
and the study's lead author. "The results further strengthen the evidence
that breathing polluted air has a negative effect on the developing lungs of

Preventive medicine researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC have
monitored levels of major pollutants in a dozen southern California
communities since 1993, while following the respiratory health of more than
3,000 students. The latest report, released in today's issue of the
"American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine," cover smog's
health effects on a group of children from 1996 to 2000.

Each year, USC scientists tested lung function by having each child take a
deep breath, then measuring how much and how fast kids could blow out the
air. Children's lung function usually grows until they reach adulthood.

Children with decreased lung function may be more susceptible to respiratory
disease and may be more likely to have weaker or smaller lungs and have
chronic respiratory problems as adults.

"Given the public health importance of these findings, it is imperative that
we accelerate our efforts to achieve clean air in Southern California," said
Dr. John Peters, Hastings professor of preventive medicine and one of the
study authors.

Researchers have found that, on average, lung function growth tends to be
higher in cleaner communities and lower in areas with more air pollution.

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