Narrator: This is Science Today. Although there's no evidence that air pollution causes asthma, there is good evidence that among asthmatics - it causes more severe symptoms and attacks. Epidemiologist Kathleen Mortimer of the University of California, Berkeley is currently conducting a four-year study in Fresno, California looking into the long-term effects of air pollution on 450 asthmatic children.
Mortimer:The primary thing that we're looking at is air pollution, but we're also looking at a lot of other environmental factors, like household characteristics and allergens. We're looking at a lot of other indoor and outdoor air quality measures.
Narrator: Mortimer says asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism, which has major effects on children's health and educational performance.
Mortimer: Particularly when we looked at the inner-cities, those kids were already having learning problems and to add missed school days into that is, it's an important public health problem. Emergency visits - it's the leading reason for emergency room visits among pediatric cases. So the cost to society and the cost of public health is high due to asthma and potentially due to the air pollution problems.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.