Release 99-05
January 28, 1999
CONTACT:  Jerry Martin
Gennet Osborn 
(916) 322-2990


Children's Health Study:
Trends Support Effects of Air Pollution on Respiratory System

        SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today revealed further evidence that high exposure to air pollution over a lifetime can cause chronic respiratory problems.  The ARB, the study's primary sponsor, today received an update on the progress of the 10-year Children's Health Study, the basis for these findings.

        "As the study progresses, it is becoming clearer that reduced lung development and asthma are on the increase due to common air pollutants," said ARB Chairman Barbara Riordan.  "Continuation of the study, with attention to these trends, should further support the findings."  Further, Riordan suggested some of the children could be followed into adulthood to continue tracking the effects of childhood exposure to air pollution on respiratory health.

        The latest findings include lower lung function associated with pollution exposure in children who spend more time outdoors and those with asthma.  In particular, children with asthma show increased bronchitic symptoms related to PM10 and nitrogen dioxide.

        The study, begun in 1991, has already linked longer school absences following high pollution episodes.

        The findings validate the need to continue the project in order to identify the specific smog components responsible for the respiratory problems and the lowest effect levels over long-term exposure.  In addition, improvement of statistical precision and enhancement of the exposure assessment will be valuable instruments in the final analysis of the study, scheduled to end in 2002.

        The study is assessing the effect that nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, ozone and ambient acids have on children in the Southern California area.  The study will also look more closely at mobile sources, including traffic patterns that may have a localized impact on children's respiratory health.  Indoor and outdoor ozone levels have been measured to determine student exposure and to validate school policies that bring children indoors during smog alerts.

       The $15 million study is co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, South Coast Air Quality Management District and other local air pollution control districts.  A team of University of Southern California researchers will have followed 5,000 children at 52 schools in 4th, 7th and 10th grades over the course of the study.

        For more information about the Children's Health Study, please contact the ARB's Public Information Office at (916) 322-2990.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.  The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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