Air pollution and asthma

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. There is growing experimental and epidemiological evidence that exposure to ambient air pollution from combustion such as motor vehicle emissions not only exacerbates existing asthma, but also contributes to the development of asthma. Asthma has a complex multifactorial etiology, which is still not fully understood, as multiple factors starting from fetal life, may interact.

The aim is to examine the individual and joint effects of early-life exposure to air pollution from multiple outdoor and indoor sources on risk of development of asthma in children and adolescents. Furthermore, we seek to determine the mechanistic basis for these effects by studying changes in lung function, inflammation, immunological markers and airway DNA methylation.

Individual health, home, home neighborhood and personal characteristics from National registers will be used for prospective studies of all children and adolescents born in Denmark since 1997 (together with detailed questionnaire data from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) and repeated measurements of lung function and biomarkers from the COPenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC). Early-life exposure to outdoor air pollution with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen dioxides (NOX), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5 from all sources and for the first time also from wood stoves), carbon monoxide (CO), elemental carbon (EC), black carbon (BC), organic carbon, (OC), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonium (NH4) will be estimated at home addresses with validated and novel prediction models. Register and questionnaire data on asthma incidence from birth to 18 years of age, home characteristics, home neighborhood will be evaluated. Confounding and effect modification by personal characteristics and exposures will be considered. The findings may have profound implications for public health, given the large burden associated with asthma and the ubiquity of air pollution exposure worldwide.

Contact: Associate Professor Marie Pedersen