With asthma and allergy symptoms increasing, a new study finds that children and adults are increasingly exposed to substances in our environment that are contributing to asthma and allergic symptoms.
Key points:A study by the Australian Research Council found the prevalence of asthma and other allergies is risingThe new study found asthma and eczema symptoms are on the rise in children and adolescents, as well as adults and older adultsThe researchers said the rising prevalence of allergic and asthma symptoms is due to an increase in the use of chemicals like phthalates and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in consumer productsIn their study, the Australian research council found that in 2013-2014 there were 1.6 million more asthma and asthma related admissions than in 2013.
The study found the median age of the people who got asthma and related health care visits had risen by nearly four years, from 21 years to 26 years.
The researchers also found that the number of people with asthma and respiratory symptoms was rising, as people were increasingly exposed.
“There’s now a big shift in the way we do business around asthma and these trends are having a big impact on people’s health,” Dr Sue Bader, the chief executive of the Australian Centre for Environmental Health Research (ACEHRI), told news.com.au.
“The prevalence of allergies and asthma is rising and asthma and more of these things are also causing a lot of the health issues we’re seeing.”
“These chemicals have become the mainstay of the world economy.”
She said it was important for people to recognise that these chemicals were present in everything from household cleaners to cosmetics.
“They’re the primary chemical used in our industry and our industry’s so important that we really need to take responsibility for the safety of our products and the safety and quality of our food and so forth,” Dr Bader said.
“So that’s why we need to be doing a lot more to reduce exposure to these chemicals and get rid of the toxic load in our food supply.”
Dr Bader and her colleagues also said the use and exposure of polychlorination biphenylene (PCB), a chemical used as a building-furniture sealant and a chemical in many household cleaners, was an increasing concern.
The ACEHRI study found that between 2013 and 2015, there was a five-fold increase in admissions for asthma and a nine-fold rise in admissions related to asthma in children aged under six.
The number of asthma-related admissions for children and teens rose from 18,000 in 2013 to 36,000 by the end of 2015.
Dr Bador said it would be important to ensure children and their parents were aware of the effects of these chemicals in their environment.
“It’s very easy for us as parents to look at a product and say ‘my child will be OK’.”
But we need children to be aware that these substances are out there and we need them to understand the health impacts of what they’re doing.
“Dr Roberta Lee, a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Melbourne, said she was concerned that more than two-thirds of all asthma admissions were in children under the age of six.”
I don’t think we’re being careful enough in terms of what we’re putting in our children’s food,” she said.
The National Centre for Asthma and Other Immunosuppressant Drugs and Chemicals (NCAIC) has been working with the ACT Government and local authorities to reduce the use, production and exposure to PVC in the environment.
It said in a statement the Centre had developed a five point action plan, including a national action plan to ensure safe food and drink, as part of the Healthy Environment 2020 strategy.”
As a result of our work, we have seen an increase of 1.7 per cent in the number and number of children diagnosed with asthma in Victoria, a 4.5 per cent increase in children diagnosed and treated for asthma, and a 10 per cent decrease in children admitted to the ACT Children’s Hospital,” NCAIC Director Professor Andrew Ketcham said.