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Childhood asthma traced to mothers who are exposed to smog

Air quality tends to diminish as the weather gets warmer.

Expecting mothers are constantly inundated with new studies that tell them what they should avoid during pregnancy in order to ensure their children are born completely healthy. Most women know that smoking and drinking alcohol are two of the most dangerous practices they can engage in while carrying a child, and while these items are easy to avoid, a new threat to unborn children – smog – may not be.

Researchers recently found that children who were exposed to nitrogen dioxide, which is present in smog, early on during the pregnancies of their mothers were more likely to have poor lung function. Many of the children eventually suffered from asthma and other similar respiratory ailments.

As the weather warms up, smog is certain to become more prevalent in the air, especially in urban centers where heat is more easily trapped and air quality is already more poor than it is more rural areas. Smog is a direct result of increased ozone levels in the air, which warmer air is known to produce.

Late last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice highlighting Air Quality Awareness Week and urged New England residents to avoid going outside on days when the air quality is poor.

"Air pollution is a significant public health concern in New England, especially for people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments," the EPA's Curt Spalding said in a statement. "People should pay close attention to air quality alerts and limit their strenuous outdoor activity on air quality alert days."

There are numerous localized resources available for individuals who are interested in air quality levels. Individuals who are at risk of being harmed by poor air quality, including the elderly, children and expecting mothers, are probably best off retreating to their homes on these days, where a HEPA air purifier can remove irritants from that indoor environment.

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