Question: Does air pollution have an impact on triggering asthma and/or allergies?
Answer: It's very well known that increased levels of air pollutants on a given day will increase the occurrence of asthma exacerbations and actually nasal symptoms as well. Often times, there's a lag of about one or two days after the increased ozone or particulate matter exposure, which are the pollutants most commonly monitored and the occurrence of disease.
We think that that 24-hour lag time is associated with changes in the airway inflammatory system that make a person with asthma more likely to respond to things that they're allergic to such as house dust mite allergen or cat allergen.
So there's really very little question that acute increases in air pollutants, usually occurring during the summer months can lead to significant increases in emergent asthma, people needing to go to the emergency room for asthma. Or even if it's not a frank emergency, people having more difficulty with asthma and needing to use their albuterol rescue inhalers more often.