Top Recent Research on the Impact of the Environment on our Health

The impact of the environment on our health is a global problem, but as you will read about below it is also a very local issue for many.  In these articles you will learn how air pollution impacts cancer survivor outcomes, the impact of climate change on our health, our living environment and asthma and more.

Childhood Cancer Survivors Impacted by Air Pollution More Than Others

Air pollution significantly increases the risk of hospitalizations in childhood cancer survivors, according to a case-crossover study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Cancer survivors may experience long-term detrimental health issues related to their cancer treatment, particularly pulmonary-toxic properties that increase the risk for adverse respiratory health outcomes.

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Environmental Factors Do Not Largely Impact Asthma Control in Children

When following proper asthma protocol, parents may not have to worry about other outside factors, such as pets and secondhand cigarette smoke, affecting improvements in their children’s asthma, recent research suggests. 

Dr. Christopher Carroll, medical director and research director for pediatric critical care at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, told MedPage Today, “These researchers showed that adherence to asthma treatment guidelines was more important than pet exposure, in terms of improving asthma symptoms over time.” Carroll was not involved in the study.

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The Impact of Climate Change on Our Health

Linda Birnbaum, PhD, DABT, ATS, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS; part of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]), discussed the interactions between the environment and health. She was the recipient of the AAAAI Foundation and Dr. William and Judith H. Busse Lectureship: Investing Together in Our Future award.

The impact of climate change leads to air pollution, severe weather, extreme heat, environmental degradation, decreased water and food supply, decreased water quality, increasing allergies, and changes in vector diseases.

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Interview: Asthma Interventions—More Than Just the Medicine

A variety of factors come into play when treating asthma—and environmental respiratory triggers go beyond the obvious.

Many interventions exist “to target the variety of exposures,” according to Elizabeth Matsui, MD, MHS, professor of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in an interview. “There’s been a lot of controversy about whether [allergen exposures] are actually effective in terms of improving asthma symptoms and reducing asthma morbidity.”

Studies on the topic have yielded conflicting results, but one overarching theme Dr. Matsui pointed to was interventions reducing allergen exposure among pediatric patients are very effective.

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Consideration of Public Health Strategies for Asthma Care

Speakers discussed public health strategies for targeting the indoor environment as an intervention for asthma care during a session at the AAAAI Annual Meeting.

Matthew Perzanowski, PhD, of Columbia University in New York, began by talking about the need for community-level interventions. He discussed a 2002 study by Rauh et al published in Environmental Health Perspectives that found that indoor household allergen levels are related to degree of household disrepair, after adjusting for individual family attributes, suggesting that social-structural aspects of housing may be appropriate targets for public health interventions designed to reduce allergen exposure. Dr. Perzanowski said the ability to remediate structural problems in low-income urban homes is often not possible for the individual. “We need to reframe this as a public health issue instead of interventions,” he said.

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