Asthma and Air Pollution: Connecting the Dots

Helen Kopnina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Two key air pollutants that affect asthma are ozone and particle pollution. Studies show direct relationship between the number of deaths and hospitalizations for asthma and increases of particulate matter in the air, including dust, soot, fly ash, diesel exhaust particles, smoke and sulfate aerosols. Cars are found to be a primary contributor to this problem. However, patient awareness of the link is limited. This chapter begins with a general discussion of vehicular dependency or 'car culture', and then focuses on the discussion of the effects of air pollution on asthma in the Netherlands. I argue that international organizations and patient organizations have not tended to put pressure on air-control, pollution-control or environmental standards agencies, let along the actual polluters. While changes in air quality and the release of greenhouse gases are tied to practices like the massive corporate support for the ongoing use of motor vehicles and the increased prominence of 'car culture' globally, patient organizations seem more focused on treating the symptoms rather than addressing the ultimate causes of the disease. Consequently, I argue that to fully address the issue of asthma the international health organizations as well as national health ministries, patient organizations, and general public must recognize the direct link between vehicular dependency and asthma. The chapter concludes with a recommendation for raising environmental health awareness by explicitly linking the vehicular dependency to the state of poor respiratory health. Strategic policy in the Netherlands then should explicitly link the present pattern of auto mobility to public health.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Anthropology and Environmental Health
EditorsMerrill Singer
Place of PublicationChichester, West Sussex, UK ; Malden, Massachusetts, US
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781118786949
ISBN (Print)9781118786994
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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