Exposure to common toxic substances could increase asthma symptoms

September 1, 2012

Vienna, Austria: Children who are exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were commonly used in a range of industrial products, could be at risk of an increase in asthma symptoms, according to new research.

The study will be presented in a poster discussion this week (Sunday 2 September 2012) at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna.

were regularly used between 1930s and 1970s in a range of electrical equipment, lubricants and paint additives. They were eventually phased out due to the harm they were causing to the environment and animals.

Although they are not widely used now, the toxic substance does not break down easily. It can be transported in water and air and it can exist in the environment, particularly at waste sites, for a number of years.

Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia examined 240 children to assess the impact PCBs are having on . They measured the levels of PCBs found in their blood, along with three pesticides, and also assessed prevalence of wheeze, a common symptom of asthma. The results found that overall, those with higher levels of PCBs were more likely to report wheeze (odds ratio 1.61). The findings also suggest that the link between PCBs and wheeze was stronger in non-atopic (non-allergic) asthma.

Lead author, Professor Sly, from the University of Queensland, said: "Despite PCBs being banned from use in many countries, people are still suffering from the effects of these . Our findings suggest that people with high levels of the chemicals in their are suffering from higher levels of wheeze, a common asthma symptom.

"This could be due to high being passed from a mother to a baby while in the womb, or PCBs may be ingested if a person consumes contaminated food. They could also be inhaled from contaminated sites."

Explore further: Link found between environmental toxins and stroke

Related Stories

Link found between environmental toxins and stroke

July 18, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Individuals with elevated levels of PCBs and DDT in their blood run a greater risk of having a stroke. This is shown in a study from Uppsala University that is being published today in the scientific journal ...

Recommended for you

Snapshot turns T cell immunology on its head

October 6, 2015

Challenging a universally accepted, longstanding consensus in the field of immunity requires hard evidence. New research from the Australian Research Council Centre of excellence in advanced Molecular imaging has shown the ...

Four gut bacteria decrease asthma risk in infants

September 30, 2015

New research by scientists at UBC and BC Children's Hospital finds that infants can be protected from getting asthma if they acquire four types of gut bacteria by three months of age. More than 300 families from across Canada ...

Flu infection reveals many paths to immune response

September 28, 2015

A new study of influenza infection in an animal model broadens understanding of how the immune system responds to flu virus, showing that the process is more dynamic than usually described, engaging a broader array of biological ...

Immune cells may help fight against obesity

September 15, 2015

While a healthy lifestyle and "good genes" are known to help prevent obesity, new research published on September 15 in Immunity indicates that certain aspects of the immune system may also play an important role. In the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.