Paying Price for Smokers
Apartment dwellers are exposed to more secondhand smoke, even when living with non-smokers, say researchers from MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston. The study found that around one third of research participants living in apartments said they smelled smoke in their buildings. Around half of the apartment residents said they smelled smoke in their own units. Apartment dwellings were only eligible for the study if no smoking took place inside their households. People with children were more likely to indicate smelling smoke. Researchers explain that there's a connection between being poorer and smoking, and, on average, people with children are more likely to be poorer than people without kids, making them more likely to live in buildings with more smokers.
Inflammation Begets Inflammation
A study looking at asthma and the risk of other inflammatory diseases found that asthma may increase diabetes and heart disease. Medical records of 2400 people with asthma and 4,784 healthy controls from 1967 to 1983 were analyzed. For asthmatics, 138 per 100,000 people had diabetes and 189 per 100,000 had heart disease compared to 104 per 100,000 and 134 per 100,000 non-asthmatics who developed diabetes and heart disease, respectively. Asthmatics have an immune profile that differs from these diseases so researchers were surprised by the results. One theory is steroids used to treat asthma at the time caused weight gain, risk factors for both diseases. Studies that follow asthmatics to determine if they are more likely to develop other diseases need to be done to confirm these results.
The Tiniest Lungs at Risk
Researchers used to think that respiratory problems that occurred in preemies subsided during childhood, but a new study in Sweden challenges that. Data from 622,616 Swedes born between 1973 and 1979 show that those born between the 23rd and 27th week of pregnancy had 2.4 times the risk of developing asthma compared to those born full-term and after 27 weeks. Of the 165 babies born very early, nine percent were prescribed drugs to treat asthma between 2005 and 2007 compared to 4 percent who were born full term or after the 27th week. Large studies on people born very premature used to be impossible because so many did not survive. These results do not prove cause and effect, but researchers believe there may be a link between immature lung development and other environmental factors.
Get Rid of Indoor Air Pollution
"New houses are sealed too tight and it's like living inside a plastic bag. Heat recovery ventilators should be mandatory."
- Boubou in the comments
As we seal cold air out of our homes in the winter, we're also sealing in pollution, say experts. A recent article at MSNBC recommends several ways to make the air inside your home healthier to breathe this winter. Avoiding scented candles this holiday season will help lessen pollution inside your home. Candles with fragrance give off particulates that may aggravate asthma or inflame the respiratory tract. Even worse, allergens like dust may hitch a ride on particulates, making breathing more difficult. Another tip is to change your heating filter every three months, using a filter with a rating of at least 8 on the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). Experts also recommend opening a window in your bedroom for a few minutes each morning and night to replenish oxygen levels.