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ELF and ERS: Road traffic pollution as serious as passive smoke in the development of childhood asthma

The European Lung Foundation (ELF) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) highlight that road traffic pollution is as serious as passive smoke in the development of childhood asthma.

New research conducted in 10 European cities has estimated that 14% of chronic childhood asthma is due to exposure to traffic pollution near busy roads. The results are comparable to the burden associated with passive smoking: the World Health Organization estimates that between 4% and 18% of asthma cases in children are linked to passive smoking.

The findings, which were published online on 22 March ahead of print in the European Respiratory Journal, come at an apt time during the 2013 EU Year of Air, which highlights the importance of clean air for all and focuses on actions to improve air quality across the EU.

Until now, traffic pollution was assumed to only trigger asthma symptoms and burden estimations did not account for chronic asthma caused by the specific range of toxicants that are found near heavily used roads along which many Europeans live.

The results from the recent studies found that 14% of asthma cases across the 10 cities could be attributed to near-road traffic pollution. The findings also take into account differences in the health of the overall population in different cities.

Last updated on 10 April 2013

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