Monday December 10, 2018

According To Study, Ozone Exposure At Birth May Up Asthma Risk

Exposure to ozone (O3) -- a common air pollutant -- at birth may increase the risk of developing asthma by age three, a new study suggests.

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Exposure to ozone (O3) — a common air pollutant — at birth may increase the risk of developing asthma by age three, a new study suggests.

The study, presented at the 2018 American Thoracic Society International Conference, showed that 31 per cent of the participants developed asthma, 42 per cent had allergic rhinitis and 76 per cent had eczema.

“Our findings show that the hazard ratios for ozone measured at birth as a single pollutant showed statistically significant higher risks for development of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema,” said lead author Teresa To from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Canada.

The study also found that 82 per cent higher risk of developing asthma was associated with each 10 parts per billion (ppb), or ppb increase in exposure to ozone at birth.

For the study, 1,881 children were recruited who were followed from birth to 17 years of age, on average.

Childhood asthma can trigger COPD in later life. IANS

 

According to the researchers, children are at a higher risk because their lungs and other respiratory organs are smaller, and they spend more time in outdoor physical activities that make them breathe faster and more deeply.

The research team took annual average concentrations of pollutants from fixed monitoring stations.

Development of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema were determined based on any records of health services used for these conditions.

The researchers adjusted for variables such as parental history of asthma and early home exposure to pollutants.

Earlier, some studies have shown that ozone depletes antioxidant activity and increases indications of inflammation in the respiratory tract fluid lining and affects lung growth.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

“Air pollution isn’t only one or a few countries’ problems, but rather a global public health concern,” said To, also a professor at the University of Toronto.

“While there are individual actions one can consider to reduce exposure to air pollutants, it also requires action by public authorities at the national, regional and international levels,” she noted. (IANS)

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Earth’s Ozone Layer Is Healing: UN

Another problem is that new technology has found an increase in emissions of a banned CFC out of East Asia, the report noted.

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Ozone layer
This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on Sept. 2000, left, and Sept. 2018. A United Nations report released on Nov. 5, 2018 says Earth’s protective ozone layer is finally healing after aerosol sprays and coolants ate away at it. VOA

Earth’s protective ozone layer is finally healing from damage caused by aerosol sprays and coolants, a new United Nations report said.

The ozone layer had been thinning since the late 1970s. Scientist raised the alarm and ozone-depleting chemicals were phased out worldwide.

As a result, the upper ozone layer above the Northern Hemisphere should be completely repaired in the 2030s and the gaping Antarctic ozone hole should disappear in the 2060s, according to a scientific assessment released Monday at a conference in Quito, Ecuador. The Southern Hemisphere lags a bit and its ozone layer should be healed by mid-century.

“It’s really good news,” said report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that.”

ozone layer
Emissions of a banned chemical most responsible for the giant Antarctic ozone hole are on the rise, according to a study which suggests that an international treaty that required an end to its production in 2010 is being violated. Pixabay

High in the atmosphere, ozone shields Earth from ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer, crop damage and other problems. Use of man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which release chlorine and bromine, began eating away at the ozone. In 1987, countries around the world agreed in the Montreal Protocol to phase out CFCs and businesses came up with replacements for spray cans and other uses.

At its worst in the late 1990s, about 10 percent of the upper ozone layer was depleted, said Newman. Since 2000, it has increased by about 1 to 3 percent per decade, the report said.

This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at nearly 9.6 million square miles (24.8 million square kilometers). That’s about 16 percent smaller than the biggest hole recorded – 11.4 million square miles (29.6 million square kilometers) in 2006.

The hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next Southern Hemisphere spring, Newman said.

ozone layer
Chemical Emission is the main reason of the hole in Ozone layer above Antarctica. Pixabay

The ozone layer starts at about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above Earth and stretches for nearly 25 miles (40 kilometers); ozone is a colorless combination of three oxygen atoms.

If nothing had been done to stop the thinning, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, Newman said.

But it’s not a complete success yet, said University of Colorado’s Brian Toon, who wasn’t part of the report.

“We are only at a point where recovery may have started,” Toon said, pointing to some ozone measurements that haven’t increased yet.

CO2, Antarctica, ozone layer
Carbon atoms move between rocks, rivers, plants, oceans and other sources in a planet-scale life cycle. Flickr

Another problem is that new technology has found an increase in emissions of a banned CFC out of East Asia, the report noted.

Also Read: No Definition Of Green-Firecrackers, Probably Too Late To Put A Check: Environmentalists

And the replacements now being used to cool cars and refrigerators need to be replaced themselves with chemicals that don’t worsen global warming, Newman said. An amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.

“I don’t think we can do a victory lap until 2060,” Newman said. “That will be for our grandchildren to do.” (VOA)