oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Ambient air pollution and childhood asthma : a review of South African epidemiological studies : allergies in the workplace

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



Childhood asthma is the most common chronic disease in children globally and ranks in the top 20 contributors of global disability-adjusted life years (DALY) in all children, and among the top 10 causes of DALY amongst 5-14 year olds. The growing increase in the prevalence of childhood asthma symptoms has been correlated with the increase in outdoor air pollution in developing countries. An estimated 23% of all deaths and 24% of the global burden of disease can be attributed to environmental factors, with ambient air pollution (especially particulate matter) responsible for 3.2 million deaths per year (3.1% of global total DALYs). This review focuses on epidemiological evidence from South African studies to interrogate the evidence for the link between ambient air pollution and childhood asthma. The review suggests a positive association between ambient air pollution and the risk of childhood asthma. However, the strength of this association is compromised by methodological issues related to the paucity of use of standardised instruments for assessing asthma outcomes and the lack of more detailed exposure characterisation approaches, which need to be addressed in studies contemplating further investigation into this area of research.

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