Common Toxic Substances May Increase Asthma Symptoms, Risk

According to new research, children who have been exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were commonly used in many industrial products, could be at risk of an increase in asthma symptoms.

The study: Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia examined 240 children to assess the impact PCBs are having on asthma symptoms, according to MedicalNewsToday. The researchers measured the levels of PCBs found in their subjects’ blood alongside three pesticides. They assessed how prevalent wheezing (a common symptom of asthma) was as well.

The results? Overall, those with higher levels of PCBS in the blood were more likely to report wheezing, and the finding furthermore suggested that the link between PCBs and wheezing was stronger in non-allergic asthma.

“The lead author of the study said that ‘Despite PCBs being banned from use in many countries, people are still suffering from the effects of these toxic substances. Our findings suggest that people with high levels of the chemicals in their blood stream are suffering from higher levels of wheeze, a common asthma symptom. This could be due to high concentration levels being passed from a mother to a baby while in the womb, or PCBs may be ingested if a person consumes contaminated food. They could also be inhaled from contaminated hazardous waste sites.’ “

A bit of background on PCBs: They were regularly used between the 30s and the 70s in electrical equipment, lubricants, and paint additives. Fortunately, they were phased out when it was discovered that they harm the environment and animals. They aren’t widely used anymore, but the toxic substance doesn’t break down very easily and can be transported in water and air or can exist in the environment (waste sites, primarily) for years before finally dissipating.

So, in news that is likely not to surprise any parent, don’t let your kids play in the garbage!