Fair Air Cleaners

Asthmatic children derive benefits when air cleaners are in place

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The number one major factor for indoor pollution is indoor smoking. Children with asthma have their symptoms stirred up when there is a smoker in the home.

A  Johns Hopkins study involving asthmatic children living in a home with smokers indicates that indoor air cleaners will greatly reduce household air pollution. Additionally, these cleaners lower the rates of daytime asthma symptoms similarly to those achieved with anti-inflammatory asthma drugs.

While the air cleaners improved the overall air quality in homes, they did not reduce air nicotine levels. All of the damaging effects of second-hand smoke were not relieved by the cleaners.

"A smoke-free home is best for asthma patients, but air cleaners help."

Lead investigator Arlene Butz, Sc.D., M.S.N., C.P.N.P., an asthma specialist at Johns Hopkins Children’s and professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reports that the air cleaners distributed during this study seem to partially improve the air quality in homes of smokers. She warns it is not to be considered as a substitute for a smoke-free home.

In this study, researchers followed 115 children, ages 6 to 12, who were living in homes where at least one of the parents smoked. One third of the homes received two air cleaners that were assigned to be plugged in the living room and the child's bedroom. Another third of the homes received the air cleaners in addition to an educational seminar regarding the dangers of second-hand smoke. The last third of the participants got neither the air conditioners nor the education.

Air nicotine levels, microscopic smoke elements, soil, dust, pollen and spore levels were measured before and six months after the study commenced. Asthma symptoms and cotinine, the marker for nicotine found in urine levels were taken from each group before the study commenced and six months afterwards.

The air quality in those homes receiving the air cleaners improved 50 percent. The group that had additional visits from health coaches along with the air cleaners did not experience any greater effect though, and levels of nicotine and urine cotinine remained the same in the children as well. 

The study also found that asthma symptoms were dramatically reduced in the homes with air cleaners. These children had considerably less wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing compared to the control group. Based on the rate of symptom reduction, researchers calculate that children who live with smokers and have air cleaners will have 33 more symptom-free days than those without the air cleaners.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 29, 2011
Last Updated:
August 3, 2011