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Environmental Assessment

Asthma Research Strategy

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In individuals susceptible to asthma, common aeroallergens can cause airway inflammation marked by episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, mucus secretion, chest tightness, and cough. While there is a definite genetic component to asthma, triggers include house dust mites, animal secretions, molds, tobacco smoke, and other air pollutants. In recognition of its responsibility to set standards that protect susceptible populations such as asthmatics, the Asthma Research Strategy discusses future research efforts aimed at addressing the following issues:

  • factors contributing to the induction and exacerbation of asthma (e.g., combustion-related products, bioaerosols, and air toxics);
  • susceptibility factors contributing to asthma (e.g., genetics, health status, socioeconomic status, residence and exposure history, and lifestyle and activity patterns);
  • and risk assessment and risk management of environmental pollutants relevant to asthma.
The Asthma Research Strategy highlights significant information gaps in each of these areas, prioritizes the research needs, and proposes advisory guidelines indicating how available resources can be utilized to advance scientific knowledge and control environmental factors that contribute to asthma prevalence and severity.

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Background

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) committed to preventing pollution and reducing risk from environmental health hazards in communities, homes, workplaces, and ecosystems. According to the 1997 asthma surveillance estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in March of 2002, 26.7 million people reported having had physician-diagnosed asthma during their lifetime. Many recent scientific journal articles and editorials have noted the increasing rates of asthma, particularly in chldren, and the need for further study. By following the goals detailed within the Asthma Research Strategy, EPA scientists will lead a coordinated reserach effort to address environmental pollutants that influence the incidence and severity of asthma. The strategy supplements and expands on other U.S. agency efforts to better understand this complex disease.

Citation

U.S. EPA. Asthma Research Strategy. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC, EPA 600/R-01/061, 2002.

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