A new paper published in The Lancet (1), which claims to link childhood asthma with nitrogen dioxide, still leaves us waiting for a study where actual individual exposure to NO2 from outdoor and indoor air is measured in children who are genetically predisposed to asthma.
The cause of asthma, which remains unknown but is most likely genetic, is distinct from a number of asthma attack ‘triggers.’ An asthma sufferer can be susceptible to one or more triggers, which are allergens or irritants. These triggers include: colds and ‘flu, weather, alcohol, animals and pets, chest infections, emotions, exercise, food, female hormones, dust mites, indoor environment, outdoor environment, moulds and fungi, pollen, recreational drugs, sex, cigarette smoke, stress and anxiety.
ABD Environment spokesman Paul Biggs said: “So-called ‘environmentalists’ continue to leap on studies that use epidemiological guesswork in order to justify their continued existence by declaring a ‘crisis’ in the 21st century, where we enjoy air that is dramatically cleaner than the levels of pollution that resulted in the clean air act of 1956. Indeed, since 1970 NOx emissions are down 72% and Particulates (PM2.5) down 79%, according to Defra (2). Hugely expensive measures, like ULEZ, that are not effective in significantly improving air quality, but are a potential crisis for small businesses and the less well off, are bad policies based on scares, not science.”
A ‘fallacy’ occurs where epidemiologists imply that X causes Y in Z, but never measure or monitor X and never meet Z, but everyone pretends they have. It should also be remembered that any correlation of X with Y isn’t proof that X causes Y. It is also wrong to ignore the issue that those children who live in inner cities where NOx is relatively high also probably live in poor and cramped housing conditions and take less exercise. Ignoring all the other correlating factors with asthma incidence fatally undermines the conclusions drawn in the Lancet paper. Basically it’s both unoriginal and bad science.
Notes for Editors
(1) Global, national and urban burdens of paediatric asthma incidence attributable to ambient NO2 pollution: estimates from global datasets
(2) Emissions of air pollutants in the UK, 1970 to 2017: