Air Pollution Makes Asthma Uncontrollable

It is common knowledge that air pollution often makes symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma much worse. According to recent research, being exposed to air pollution for the long-term can actually make it extremely difficult to get asthma under control properly.

Air pollution and asthma is generally an unhealthy an unhealthy collaboration. New data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011 files is not very promising for those with respiratory health issues. Nearly 10% of children and 8% of adults in 2009 had asthma. This is an increase from 2001 when the ratio was 1 in 14 people. Between the years of 2001 and 2009, the amount of people being diagnosed with some level of asthma increased by close to 4.3 million people.

The correlation between asthma and air pollution has generated a lot of attention and more research is constantly being conducted to help researchers have a better understanding of what can be done to help the situation. Recently a study was conducted in France which produced even more findings. The purpose of the study was to analyze the effect of long-term air pollution exposure on the ability to control asthma.

The participants of this study involved 481 adults that all had asthma and had participated in the 1995 Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma. Between the years of 2003 and 2007, the adults involved in the study were also asked to participate in a follow-up study which included a questionnaire about their personal respiratory issues.

By using the information from the French Institute of the Environment, the researchers were able to calculate the amount of ozone, nitrous oxide, and other particulate matter that each participant had been exposed to throughout the course of one year. Each participant’s symptoms helped determine the degree that their asthma was able to be controlled along with their general lung function and the frequency and number of asthma attacks they experienced.

Out of the 481 participants that had available air pollutant data, 44% were considered to have controlled asthma, while 29% had partially controlled asthma, and 26% had uncontrolled asthma. Also important to note is that women more often had uncontrolled asthma when compared to men and the older participants also were more likely to have uncontrolled asthma when compared to the youngest participants.

Researchers came to the conclusion that being exposed to both ozone and particulate matter for a long time was directly associated with decreased control of asthma. In fact, being exposed to ozone too much was associated with an increase of 69% risk of having uncontrollable asthma while particulate matter exposure increased the risk by 35%.

The authors of the study referred to their results as being robust. They also noted that their study is the first of its kind to be able to demonstrate a direct correlation between exposure to air pollution and the ability to control asthma.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jacquenmin, B. et al. Epidemiology and Community Health 2011; doi: 10.1136/jech.2010.130229.

Mitchell, D. 2011. Uncontrolled