According to an article by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “for those who live in cities and industrial areas, the presence of wheezing and asthma increases.” No one has yet been able to prove that polluted city air causes asthma (though many think this), but we know it definitely makes asthma symptoms worse.
A series of “freeway studies” conducted in LA showed that those who live closer to major highways have worse respiratory health than those who live further away. It’s troubling to think that even something as seemingly small as proximity to major roads within a city can make that much of a difference.
I myself have had the pleasure of living in two wonderful cities that unfortunately are regularly subject to haze. One is Santa Ana, LA’s neighbor, which got “hazed” seemingly every summer when California’s forests habitually caught fire. The other is Singapore which got “hazed” when farmers from neighboring countries had to “slash-and-burn” their fields. And though I appreciate the produce farmers provide, it was annoying to have to stay inside during recess.
So what’s a parent in a big city to do? According to Dr. Christopher Chang, “make sure the child’s asthma is well-controlled, and that they take their medicines as prescribed and as needed.” Of course one of the best ways to simply and effectively receive medications is with a good nebulizer. Dr. Chang goes on to recommend that parents close their windows and use central heating or cooling when possible. In many cities, you can also check the daily air quality forecast and limit outdoor activities on days with particularly polluted air.