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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Desert Dust may Exacerbate Children's Asthma

Posted by Prahallad Panda on 6:20 AM Comments

This study co-relates children's asthma exacerbation due to blown up desert dust in far away places.

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'Desert dust' days may worsen kids' asthma

Tengeri Desert is seen beside the Huanghe river,on the outskirts of Zhongwei, China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, June 23, 2006. REUTERS/Jason Lee

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Dust blown from faraway deserts may accumulate in the air to levels great enough to contribute to children's asthma attacks, a new study suggests.

They found that between 2005 and 2009, the region had a total of six heavy-dust days from February through April -- when mineral-dust levels in the air were above 1 milligram per cubic meter.

During that same time frame, 620 children between the ages of 1 and 15 were hospitalized for an asthma exacerbation. In general, children's risk of being hospitalized was 88 percent higher on a heavy-dust day compared with other days, and similarly elevated during the week following a major dust event.

While there may be no advisories on desert dust specifically, levels of so-called particulate matter -- especially "coarse" dust particles known as PM10 -- also rise on heavy-dust days, Kanatani noted.

According to Kanatani, a hazy sky is a good initial clue that levels of particulate matter are high that day, and it may be a good idea to limit asthmatic children's time outdoors. But parents can also go online to check local PM levels, the researcher noted.

In the U.S., local news outlets generally provide daily air-quality indices; they are also available on the government Web site AIRNow, at

SOURCE: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, online July 23, 2010.


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