More than seven million children in the United States suffer from asthma with the highest prevalence in inner-city areas. While some cases of asthma are believed to have genetic origins, many cases are due to exposure to environmental irritants such as air pollution, pet dander and mold.

In children, indoor exposure to air pollutants is associated with an increased risk in asthma severity including a greater frequency in respiratory symptoms and asthma medication use. Indoor pollutants can originate from a variety of sources, for example second-hand smoke and outdoor pollution from nearby traffic.

Professor Brian Leaderer, Co-director of the Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology, and his collaborators have studied development of the disease, severity, genetic and environmental risk factors in infants and children and pregnancy outcomes. 

Currently, the  Children’s Air Pollution Study (CAPS), is examining the role of specific residential air pollutants and their sources on asthma in inner-city children. The randomized, double-blind study design uses a modified commercial air cleaner to reduce specific pollutants in homes where the risk is highest. The air cleaner will be operated using different filters and will be in homes for a period of 18 weeks. Parents of the enrolled asthmatic child will be asked to keep a record of their child's symptoms and medication use.