Experts link asthma to global warming
GLOBAL warming could lead to more people in Britain suffering the misery of asthma, new research suggests today.
A major study of almost 670,000 children has found a clear link between indoor humidity and asthma rates in western Europe.
Every 10 per cent increase in indoor humidity was associated with a 2.7 per cent increase in the prevalence of asthma symptoms, the researchers found.
House dust mites, which trigger asthma attacks, thrive in moist air, and humidity encourages mould which can irritate the airways.
The study also found that places where average outdoor humidity dropped below 50 per cent for at least one month a year had lower rates of asthma. Warmer temperatures caused by climate change are expected to drive up humidity levels, especially in cities.
Experts believe summers in the city will get stickier because of the "urban heat island" effect caused by asphalt and concrete trapping heat at night.
The impact of climate change was acknowledged by the authors of the asthma study, led by Dr Stephen Weiland from the University of Ulm in Germany.
Writing in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, they said the evidence showed that climate can affect rates of asthma and eczema in children. The researchers added: "This may also have implications for the assessment of potential health effects due to climate change."
The scientists found that temperature, altitude, humidity and latitude all influenced the prevalence of asthma and eczema. Information was collected between 1992 and 1996 from children aged six to seven, and 12 to 13, from more than 50 countries.
The research formed part of a major worldwide investigation, called the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC).
When the data was analysed, it showed the strong link between indoor humidity and asthma rates for both age groups. The trend emerged in western Europe, where the study focused on 57 centres in 12 countries.
Increasing latitude was associated with higher rates of eczema, and higher outdoor temperatures with lower rates.
An association has been seen before between thunderstorms and higher numbers of hospital admissions due to asthma, but little is known about the effect of long-term climatic conditions on the disease.
Londoners can expect many more sweaty nights in years to come, as a result of rising levels of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, New Scientist magazine reported last week.
In the past 30 years, there have been only 20 nights when the minimum temperature in London failed to fall below 20C. Doubling carbon-dioxide levels could quadruple that figure, but adding the urban heat island effect could see it soar by a factor of six - an extra three nights a year at least.
Richard Betts, from the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction in Exeter, said: "This could have quite significant effects on human health."
Last year’s heatwave in Europe is estimated to have caused at least 20,000 deaths.
Children who live in households where gas is frequently used to cook meals are more likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses than other youngsters, research claimed today.
A study of more than 400 children under the age of six found that 26 per cent had one or more respiratory conditions, such as allergic rhinitis, asthma or bronchitis.
The researchers suggested that frequent use of gas cooking produced higher levels of nitrous oxide and other fumes that could build up in poorly ventilated kitchens.
The study, published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, focused on 426 children living in two housing estates in Hong Kong, one in an area of high environmental pollution.
The research found little link between passive smoking in the home and respiratory illnesses. This might be explained by parents avoiding smoking in the presence of their children.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West