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

Exposure to larger air particles linked to increased risk of asthma in children

December 15, 2017
Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University report statistical evidence that children exposed to airborne coarse particulate matter—a mix of dust, sand and non-exhaust tailpipe emissions, such as tire rubber—are more ...

Bioengineers imagine the future of vaccines and immunotherapy

December 14, 2017
In the not-too-distant future, nanoparticles delivered to a cancer patient's immune cells might teach the cells to destroy tumors. A flu vaccine might look and feel like applying a small, round Band-Aid to your skin.

Immune cells turn back time to achieve memory

December 13, 2017
Memory T cells earn their name by embodying the memory of the immune system - they help the body remember what infections or vaccines someone has been exposed to. But to become memory T cells, the cells go backwards in time, ...

Steroid study sheds light on long term side effects of medicines

December 13, 2017
Fresh insights into key hormones found in commonly prescribed medicines have been discovered, providing further understanding of the medicines' side effects.

The immune cells that help tumors instead of destroying them

December 12, 2017
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated deaths. One of the most promising ways to treat it is by immunotherapy, a strategy that turns the patient's immune system against the tumor. In the past twenty years, ...

Cancer gene plays key role in cystic fibrosis lung infections

December 12, 2017
PTEN is best known as a tumor suppressor, a type of protein that protects cells from growing uncontrollably and becoming cancerous. But according to a new study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), PTEN has a second, ...

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.