A carefully conducted study of 2,120 children in southern California has found dramatically better lung function in the children as air quality has improved.Over a 13-year period, the children with poor lung capacity and lung health fell by half as levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter dropped. The gains were seen both in youngsters who had asthma and in those who did not.
The Chief author of the study is Dr. James Gauderman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. It is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, complements research showing that childhood lung function deteriorates and the risk of asthma rises as pollution levels rise.
Gauderman and his colleagues examined the long-term effects in children by studying three groups during three time periods between 1994 and 2011. Typically, the children entered the study around age 11 and were followed for four years, a period when the lungs are developing rapidly. All lived in the Los Angeles area, a region of the U.S. known for air pollution problems, which have been abating as a result of strict state controls.