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

Tracing cell death pathway points to drug targets for brain damage, kidney injury, asthma

October 19, 2017
University of Pittsburgh scientists are unlocking the complexities of a recently discovered cell death process that plays a key role in health and disease, and new findings link their discovery to asthma, kidney injury and ...

Scientists find where HIV 'hides' to evade detection by the immune system

October 19, 2017
In a decades-long game of hide and seek, scientists from Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research have confirmed for the very first time the specific immune memory T-cells where infectious HIV 'hides' in the human ...

Researchers release the brakes on the immune system

October 18, 2017
Many tumors possess mechanisms to avoid destruction by the immune system. For instance, they misuse the natural "brakes" in the immune defense mechanism that normally prevent an excessive immune response. Researchers at the ...

Gene transcription in virus-specific CD8 T cells differentiates chronic from resolving HCV

October 17, 2017
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators have identified differences in gene transcription within key immune cells that may distinguish those individuals infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) who develop chronic ...

How cytoplasmic DNA triggers inflammation in human cells

October 17, 2017
A team led by LMU's Veit Hornung has elucidated the mechanism by which human cells induce inflammation upon detection of cytoplasmic DNA. Notably, the signal network involved differs from that used in the same context in ...

Early trials show potential for treating hay fever with grass protein fragments

October 13, 2017
Protein fragments taken from grass can help protect hay fever patients from allergic reactions to pollen grains.

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.