. Earth Science News .

Asthma rate and costs from traffic-related air pollution are much higher than once believed
by Staff Writers
Amherst, MA (SPX) Jan 31, 2012

File image.

A research team led by University of Massachusetts Amherst resource economist Sylvia Brandt, with colleagues in California and Switzerland, have revised the cost burden sharply upward for childhood asthma and for the first time include the number of cases attributable to air pollution, in a study released this week in the early online version of the European Respiratory Journal.

The total cost of asthma due to pollution is much higher than past traditional risk assessments have indicated and there is growing evidence that exposure to traffic-related air pollution is a cause of asthma and a trigger for attacks, so it should be included, say the authors.

They conducted the study in Long Beach and Riverside, Calif., communities with high regional air pollution levels and large roads near residential neighborhoods.

Total additional asthma-specific costs there due to traffic-related pollution is about $18 million per year, almost half of which is due to new asthma cases caused by pollution, they report. Brandt worked with researchers at the University of Basel, Switzerland, Sonoma Technology, Inc. and the University of Southern California.

Using updated techniques that count asthma cases attributable to air pollution for the first time and including a broader range of health care costs such as parents' missed work days, extra doctor visits and travel time along with prescriptions, the researchers found that a single episode of bronchitic symptoms cost an average $972 in Riverside and $915 in Long Beach.

Bronchitic symptoms (daily cough, congestion or phlegm, or bronchitis for three months in a row) are a critical outcome for children with asthma.

Further, people who live in cities with high traffic-related air pollution bear a higher burden of these costs than those in less polluted areas, they say.

Brandt and colleagues say the total annual cost for a typical asthma case was $3,819 in Long Beach and $4,063 in Riverside, and "the largest share of the cost of an asthma case was the indirect cost of asthma-related school absences." School absences are an important economic consequence, they add, because "they often lead to parents or caregivers missing work."

Overall, Brandt points out that the results are relevant and applicable to many settings and "families with children who have asthma are bearing a high cost.

The total annual estimate between $3,800 and $4,000 represents 7 percent of median household income in our study in these two communities. This is troublesome because that is higher than the 5 percent considered to be a bearable or sustainable level of health care costs for a family."

Riverside and Long Beach account for about 7 percent of the total population of California, the authors say, which suggests that state-wide costs of asthma related to air pollution are "truly substantial."

For this work, Brandt and colleagues analyzed several surveys on health care visits by children with asthma and their previous estimates of the number of asthma cases attributable to pollution to estimate the annual costs of childhood asthma.

They also estimated the cost of asthma exacerbation due to regional air pollutants. They feel the new method does a better job of accounting for the full impact of traffic-related pollution and will be widely applicable in urban areas.

She points out, "Traditional risk assessment methods for air pollution have underestimated both the overall burden of asthma and the cost of the disease associated with air pollution. Our findings suggest the cost has been substantially underestimated and steps must be taken to reduce the burden of traffic-related pollution."

Related Links
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Philippine court orders massive dump site closure
Manila (AFP) Jan 29, 2012
The Philippines' highest court has ordered the closure of a 30-year-old dump site near a popular tourist enclave, five months after an avalanche at the massive rubbish heap killed five. In a four-page ruling obtained by AFP on Sunday, the Supreme Court issued an environmental protection order to stop the Baguio city government from operating the Irisan landfill, citing environmental hazards. ... read more

US Navy comes to rescue of Iranian fishing dhow

Japan studies flora and fauna near Fukushima plant

N.Z. quake bill to approach $25 bn: central bank

NOAA satellites aid in the rescue of 207 people in 2011

Harnessing the predictive power of virtual communities

Congolese inventor puts African tablet on sale

SciTechTalk: The smartphone debate

Catalyzing new uses for diesel by-products

UMass Amherst Ecologists among the First to Record and Study Deep-sea Fish Noises

Warming in the Tasman Sea a global warming hot spot

Report Taps into Innovative Financing to Secure Future for Sustainable Water Infrastructure

Scientists Aboard Iberian Coast Ocean Drilling Expedition Report Early Findings

Study may answer longstanding questions about Little Ice Age

Glaciar theft: Chilean police recover stolen ice

What really happened prior to 'Snowball Earth'?

Norway wants to block China from Arctic Council: report

Truckloads of Chinese rice enter N. Korea: activist

Overgrazed grasslands tied to locust outbreaks

S. America drought hits corn yields

Recent study by Mars underscores health benefits of cocoa flavanols

Tsunami debris survey launched northwest of Midway

Scores injured in Peruvian earthquake

Search goes on for thousands of Japan's tsunami missing

Flood survivors rebuild in Philippine danger zones

African Union unveils Chinese-built headquarters

Sudan army frees 14 'kidnapped' Chinese: report

New AU headquarters marks strong China-Africa ties

US Navy SEALs prove their mettle again

A glass of milk a day could benefit your brain

Following the first steps out of Africa

Japan's population to shrink two thirds by 2110

Arabia saw first humans out of Africa


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement