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Traffic-related air pollution, genetics and asthma development in children
  1. Thomas Sandström1,
  2. Frank J Kelly2
  1. 1
    Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy, University Hospital, Umea, Sweden
  2. 2
    Environmental Research Group, School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, King’s College, London, UK
  1. Professor T Sandström, Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy, University Hospital, Umea SE-901 85, Sweden; thomas.sandstrom{at}

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In recent years, air pollution has increasingly become recognised as a major contributor to adverse health effects. Numerous studies have shown that poor air quality can adversely affect those with respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and, more recently, cardiovascular conditions such as myocardial infarctions and stroke.1 Wherever the location, air pollution has been shown to be associated with deterioration in patients with these conditions, as well as with increased mortality.

In patients with asthma, air pollution increases symptoms, medication use, bronchoconstriction, emergency room admissions and hospitalisations. These effects are linked to pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM) and, increasingly, the role of traffic-related air pollution has been highlighted. Traffic pollution consists of a complex mixture of particles and gases from gasoline and diesel engines, together with dust from wear of road surfaces, tyres and brakes. The coarse particles from road dust have been clearly associated with worsening of asthma and respiratory symptoms.2 Motor engine particles from diesel engines have been linked with worsening of asthma and increased bronchial hyper-responsiveness, a hallmark of asthma.3 There is also literature suggesting that diesel particles enhance allergen sensitisation in animals and humans and that they differentially affect the …

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  • Competing interests: None.

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