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EPA Scientist Identify Metals as Possible Air Pollution Components that Exacerbates Asthma

Release Date: 05/29/2003
Contact Information:

Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819/

(05/29/03) In research on environmental factors that contribute to asthma, EPA scientists have identified metals as components in air pollution that may affect the severity of asthma. This international study is the first to link animal and human data to show the possible role of metals in aggravating asthma, and is available online in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal ( The study was done in collaboration with researchers at the German Research Center for Environment and Health. Although particulate matter (PM2.5) is known to exacerbate asthma, it is critical to identify which components in PM2.5 have this effect. Allergic asthma is epidemic in the U.S., afflicting 20 million Americans, including six million children. Since 1980, the biggest growth in asthma cases has occurred in children under five. In 1997, EPA established National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM2.5. These standards are set at levels that protect public health, including the health of sensitive populations such as people with asthma, children, and the elderly. In 2002, EPA announced the Asthma Research Strategy to focus research on pollutants that contribute to asthma, susceptibility factors, and risk management. For more information on EPA’s Asthma Research Strategy, go to the website: For resources on managing asthma, call the Childhood Asthma “Fish Out of Water” hotline at 1-800-315-8056 or go to EPA’s asthma website at: