Doctors can help asthma patients reduce their exposure to air pollution


Dr. Michelle North

Physicians can help their patients with asthma by recommending ways to reduce their individual exposure to air pollution, according to a new publication by AllerGen researchers, Drs Michelle North, Anne Ellis and Chris Carlsten, and co-author Dr. Neil Alexis.

The paper was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). It presented the case of a 38-year-old woman who rode her bicycle to work each day and began experiencing wheezing at the end of her 30-minute commute. The woman’s allergist determined that a recent change in her bicycle route brought the patient within 300 metres of major roadways for 70% of her commute. The physician mapped out an alternative cycling route, reducing the patient’s exposure to air pollution and resulting in an improvement in asthma symptoms.

“This article was targeted towards physicians with the message that it is time for better integration of the existing public health knowledge of the effects of air pollution into practice, and specifically into asthma action plans,” says AllerGen trainee Dr. Michelle North, a post-doctoral fellow at Queen’s University and lead author on the paper. “The case we presented showed that counselling patients on ways to reduce their air pollution exposure can have a positive effect on individual asthma patients.”