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

Accounting for human immune diversity increases clinical relevance of fundamental immunological research

July 26, 2017
Mouse models have advanced our understanding of immune function and disease in many ways but they have failed to account for the natural diversity in human immune responses. As a result, insights gained in the lab may be ...

Study sheds light on how body may detect early signs of cancer

July 26, 2017
Fresh insights into how cells detect damage to their DNA - a hallmark of cancer - could help explain how the body keeps disease in check.

How genetically engineered viruses develop into effective vaccines

July 26, 2017
Lentiviral vectors are virus particles that can be used as a vaccine to stimulate the immune system to fight against specific pathogens. The vectors are derived from HIV, rendered non-pathogenic, and then engineered to carry ...

Does your child really have a food allergy?

July 24, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many people misunderstand what food allergies are, and even doctors can be confused about how to best diagnose them, suggests a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Genetic immune deficiency could hold key to severe childhood infections

July 18, 2017
A gene mutation making young children extremely vulnerable to common viruses may represent a new type of immunodeficiency, according to a University of Queensland researcher.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?

July 18, 2017
What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma in adults? This can be tricky because asthma can stem from several causes and treatment often depends on what is triggering the asthma.

0 comments

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.