- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The percentage of children with asthma has nearly doubled in 20 years, rising from 3.6 percent in 1980 to 8.7 percent, or 6.3 million children, by 2001, according to EPA’s second report on environmental threats to children’s health. (See www.epa.gov/envirohealth/children/ace_2003.pdf.)
“Asthma rates are increasing,” EPA Administrator Christine Whitman said of the study’s findings, “children of lower-income families and children of color [were] more likely to have had an asthma attack in the previous 12 months” of the study.
Researchers studied a number of factors in both indoor and outdoor air quality, and suggested that exposure to dust mite and cockroach allergens, tobacco smoke, pesticides, ground-level ozone from cars and soot from diesel engines might be behind the increase in asthma among children.
The study also tracked other environmental contaminants and their effect on children’s health, including exposure to mercury, lead, tobacco smoke and exposures that may play a role in childhood cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders and birth defects. The study also cites the emerging issue of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which disproportionately affects white male children living at the poverty level.
To the positive side, the report reveals lead and cigarette smoke blood levels have significantly decreased. Exposure to ozone and public water contaminates were also significantly reduced.