Research shows connection between Cleveland traffic pollution and asthma in kids

Number of cases have greatly reduced since 2000.

Research shows connection between Cleveland traffic pollution and asthma in kids

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -New research is showing the connection between traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) and asthma case in Northeast Ohio have reduced greatly since the year 2000.

The findings, posted in an article on, used a heat map to show the number of case of asthma in both 2000 and 2010, and what percent of them might be associated with TRAP.

“In 2000, we estimated that 209,100 childhood asthma cases could be attributed to traffic pollution, while this number dropped to 141,900 cases in 2010,” according to the article. “That’s a major win for public health.”

When looking at Northeast Ohio it is evident, at least in 2000, there was a significant risk factor to children in this area.

“The burden of childhood asthma that is shown in these maps is that specifically attributable to air pollution,” according to Haneen Khreis, PhD and Associate Research Scientist at Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “As such, the simple reason would be that air pollution in that region in high.”

The study used an estimated pollution level to determine the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which Khreis said is a relatively good marker of traffic.

That level for Cuyahoga County in 2000 was a mean of 31.4 micrograms/meter cubic inch.

In Cleveland it was even worse at 35.12 micrograms/meter cubic inch.

The national average was 20.6.

Those numbers improved quite significantly in 2010 at 22.4 for the city and 20 for the county.

According to the 2000 map it shows in Cuyahoga County there were 380,000 children, with 1,193 attributable case of asthma linked to TRAP.

Meaning 31% of the cases in Cleveland can be linked to pollution levels.

Those number dropped significantly in 2010 with 661 attributable cases of asthma due to TRAP in the county, representing just 21% of all cases.

“Basically, what we are saying is that many new cases of childhood asthma are occurring due to air pollution which is a completely modifiable factor," Khreis said. “We can do something about it (and we have between 2000 and 2010). As such, these cases are preventable and all efforts should aim at minimizing children’s exposure to air pollution as much as possible. There is no safe air pollution threshold.”

The major change in the numbers nationwide, for the better, suggests efforts by consumers and industrial companies are working.

“It tells me that regulations to clean the air in this decade actually worked,” Khreis siad. “There may be multiple causes for the decrease in air pollution and therefore the decrease in the asthma burden, including more fuel-efficient vehicles, more stringent regulation on nitrogen oxide emissions and, potentially, reductions in total vehicle miles traveled due to the recession.”

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