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Freshly painted walls are linked to up to a 10-times higher risk of exacerbating asthma in children, according to a recent study by the University of Miami.
The research also showed even greater danger for asthma complications if these children took asthma medication and came in contact with second-hand smoke.
Researchers say this data indicates a direct line between environmental exposure and worsened symptoms.
“Paint exposure is a significant risk factor of an asthma attack while other environmental exposures including second-hand smoke further intensify this effect,” said Dr. Nadia Saif, a study author who conducted the research at the University of Miami but is now at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, according to Medpage Today. “Airway remodeling is a potential mechanism which may explain the association between paint and asthma attack.”
Survey and Results
Saif and her colleagues surveyed 136 children between ages 1-15 with asthma and their parents. The participants were made up of those who visited two pediatric clinics at the University of Miami from June to October 2016.
Survey questions included asthma severity, allergies, household environmental factors, and whether or not the family recently painted their home. They divided that group between recently paint exposed and not exposed.
Their results showed significant differences in their analysis of the results.
Paint-exposed children were 10-times more likely to experience asthma exacerbation when compared to their not-exposed peers.
“Paint exposure increases the likelihood of pediatric asthma exacerbation,” the researchers state in their report. “Although home painting can improve domestic hygiene, VOC [Volatile Organic Compound] emission after painting poses a health threat, especially for children with respiratory diseases and allergies.”
The group did recognize their study is not conclusive given its small population. Factors such as not knowing the exact time coats of paint were applied.
However, the researchers do stand by their findings, saying other studies should conduct further research.
Other groups, such as the Hoffman TILT program at UT Health San Antonio has found similar evidence of VOCs in paint harming the health of those exposed — including the development of Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT).
Latino Children and Asthma
This is an issue that should concern Latino parents.
“Latino children are 40% more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino whites, and nearly 10% of Latino children under the age of 18 suffer from this chronic respiratory illness,” writes the Environmental Defense Fund.
Those children can also miss hours of school dealing with the disease.
Worse, one in 10 Latino adults in the U.S. has asthma. That population also faces harmful exposure that can cause significant respiratory issues, especially those who work in fields related to commercial painting.
Individuals can reduce the risks posed by VOCs by purchasing safer paint, household product alternatives.
“Many consumer products found in homes, including wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleaners and disinfectants, adhesives, air fresheners, printers, and furniture fabrics release VOCs,” Saif said. “Additional measures should be implemented to avoid predicted exposure to paint in all pediatric patients in order to avoid unknown health consequences.”
Take the QEESI and BREESI assessments developed by the researchers at Hoffman TILT to discover if you are TILTed!
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a collaboration between Salud America! and the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) program at UT Health- San Antonio. To find out if you are TILTed due to exposure to everyday foods, chemicals, or drugs, take a self-assessment or learn more about TILT.