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D. When it Comes to Asthma, No Man is an Island

Narrator: This is Science Today. Lower socioeconomic factors and urban areas have been linked to higher rates of asthma, but new research showed poorer lung function among populations living in the suburbs. Dr. Paul Blanc, a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of California , San Francisco , led the study.

Blanc: Surrounding areas of lower socioeconomic status were associated with worse quality of life specific to asthma, but when we looked at lung function and how fast someone can exhale air, which is a common measure of disease status in asthma, we actually found that what predicted worse lung function was surrounding socioeconomic status that in general, one would associate with a suburban, less dense population picture and home ownership.

Narrator: The study raises the possibility that higher rates of pet ownership and larger backyards with more allergenic plants could be a factor in suburban-related health exposures. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.