Welcome Symposium Participants

Dear Participants,

On behalf of the World Asthma Foundation, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the TimeToCleantheAir.com Symposium. We are proud to underwrite this important event that focuses on one of the most critical challenges of our time: clean air.

At the World Asthma Foundation, our vision is to improve the quality of life for all asthmatics. We advocate for improved understanding of the causes of asthma, diagnostic tools, methodologies, precision therapies, prevention, and one day, a cure. To achieve our vision, we support the asthma community with educational resources such as podcasts, bulletins, and in-depth scientific analysis, fostering improved outcomes, doctor-patient relationships, and joint decision-making to empower asthmatics to take charge of their own health.

The TimeToCleantheAir.com Symposium is an exceptional opportunity to bring together leaders, experts, and concerned citizens from around the world to address the challenges of clean air. During the event, participants will have access to informative and thought-provoking sessions led by distinguished speakers.

We are pleased to present the session “Politics of Air – Concepts, Challenges Barriers, Opportunities” led by the World Asthma Foundation. In this session, you will learn about the critical concepts, challenges, barriers, and opportunities of clean indoor air. We will explore the complexities of maintaining clean indoor air, the health impacts of poor indoor air quality, and the barriers to achieving clean indoor air. We will also examine opportunities for improving indoor air quality, such as increasing ventilation, reducing the use of products that emit harmful pollutants, and raising awareness and education about indoor air quality.

We live in interesting times, and clean air is a challenging and often heated political topic. However, we firmly believe that together, we can overcome the obstacles and create a healthier and safer environment for all. Stronger together, we can prevail through the bumpy roads ahead.

Thank you for joining us at this critical event, and we look forward to a productive and enlightening symposium.

Alan Gray
World Asthma Foundation

What you can expect

The TimeToCleantheAir.com Symposium is a virtual and asynchronous, meaning that the event is global and prerecorded for your convenience.

The symposium aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of clean air and to explore the challenges, opportunities, and strategies for achieving clean air for all.

Pollution Alters Infant Microbiome Says Study

Pollution Alters Infant Microbiome, Influencing Brain Development

Research reflects that exposure to air pollution within the first 6 months of life alters a child’s microbiome, increasing the risk for allergies, diabetes, obesity, and influencing brain development.

Source: University of Colorado

Exposure to air pollution in the first six months of life impacts a child’s inner world of gut bacteria, or microbiome, in ways that could increase risk of allergies, obesity and diabetes, and even influence brain development, suggests new University of Colorado Boulder research.

The study, published this month in the journal Gut Microbes, is the first to show a link between inhaled pollutants—such as those from traffic, wildfires and industry—and changes in infant microbial health during this critical window of development.

Previous research by the same group found similar results in young adults.

“This study adds to the growing body of literature showing that air pollution exposure, even during infancy, may alter the gut microbiome, with important implications for growth and development,” said senior author Tanya Alderete, assistant professor of Integrative Physiology at CU Boulder.

At birth, an infant hosts little resident bacteria. Over the first two to three years of life, exposure to mother’s milk, solid food, antibiotics and other environmental influences shape which microorganisms take hold.

Those microbes, and the metabolites, or byproducts, they produce when they break down food or chemicals in the gut, influence a host of bodily systems that shape appetite, insulin sensitivity, immunity, mood and cognition.

While many are beneficial, some microbiome compositions have been associated with Chrohn’s disease, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

“The microbiome plays a role in nearly every physiological process in the body, and the environment that develops in those first few years of life sticks with you,” said first author Maximilian Bailey, who graduated in May with a master’s in Integrative Physiology and is now a medical student at Stanford University.

Boosting inflammation

For the study, the researchers obtained fecal samples from 103 healthy, primarily breast-fed Latino infants enrolled in the Southern California Mother’s Milk Study and used genetic sequencing to analyze them.

Using their street addresses and data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System, which records hourly data from monitoring systems, they estimated exposure to PM2.5 and PM10 (fine inhalable particles from things like factories, wildfires and construction sites) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), a gas largely emitted from cars.

“Overall, we saw that ambient air pollution exposure was associated with a more inflammatory gut-microbial profile, which may contribute to a whole host of future adverse health outcomes,” said Alderete.

For instance, infants with the highest exposure to PM2.5 had 60% less Phascolarctobacterium, a beneficial bacterium known to decrease inflammation, support gastrointestinal health and aid in neurodevelopment. Those with the highest exposure to PM10 had 85% more of the microorganism Dialister, which is associated with inflammation.

Disadvantaged communities at higher risk

In a previous study, Alderete found that pregnant Latino women exposed to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy have babies who grow unusually fast in the first month after birth, putting them at risk for obesity and related diseases later in life.

Infants are particularly vulnerable to the health hazards of air pollution because they breathe faster and their gut microbiome is just taking shape.

“This makes early life a critical window where exposure to air pollution may have disproportionately deleterious health effects,” they write.

Racial minorities and low-income communities, who tend to work, live and attend school in regions closer to busy highways or factories, are at even greater risk. One 2018 Environmental Protection Agency study found that communities of color are exposed to as much as 1.5 times more airborne pollutants than their white counterparts.

This shows a baby’s hand in an adults hand
At birth, an infant hosts little resident bacteria. Image is in the public domain

“Our findings highlight the importance of addressing the impact of pollution on disadvantaged communities and point to additional steps all families can take to protect their health,” said Alderete, who hopes her research will influence policymakers to move schools and affordable housing projects away from pollution sources.

The authors caution that more research is needed to determine whether changes in the gut in infancy have lasting impacts, and just what those are. More studies are underway.

Meantime, Alderete advises everyone to take these steps to reduce their exposure to both indoor and outdoor pollutants:

Avoid walking outdoors in high traffic zones
Consider a low-cost air-filtration system, particularly for rooms children spend a lot of time in
If you are cooking, open the windows
And for new moms, breastfeed for as long as possible

Source: Neuroscience.com

“Breast milk is a fantastic way to develop a healthy microbiome and may help offset some of the adverse effects from environmental exposures,” Alderete said.
About this pollution and neurodevelopment research news

Author: Lisa Marshall
Source: University of Colorado
Contact: Lisa Marshall – University of Colorado

“Postnatal exposure to ambient air pollutants is associated with the composition of the infant gut microbiota at 6-months of age” by Maximilian J. Bailey et al. Gut Microbes


Postnatal exposure to ambient air pollutants is associated with the composition of the infant gut microbiota at 6-months of age

Epidemiological studies in adults have shown that exposure to ambient air pollution (AAP) is associated with the composition of the adult gut microbiome, but these relationships have not been examined in infancy.

We aimed to determine if 6-month postnatal AAP exposure was associated with the infant gut microbiota at 6 months of age in a cohort of Latino mother-infant dyads from the Southern California Mother’s Milk Study (n = 103).

We estimated particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure from birth to 6-months based on residential address histories. We characterized the infant gut microbiota using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing at 6-months of age. At 6-months, the gut microbiota was dominated by the phyla Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria.

Our results show that, after adjusting for important confounders, postnatal AAP exposure was associated with the composition of the gut microbiota. As an example, PM10 exposure was positively associated with Dialister, Dorea, Acinetobacter, and Campylobacter while PM2.5 was positively associated with Actinomyces.

Further, exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 was inversely associated with Alistipes and NO2 exposure was positively associated with Actinomyces, Enterococcus, Clostridium, and Eubacterium. Several of these taxa have previously been linked with systemic inflammation, including the genera Dialister and Dorea.

This study provides the first evidence of significant associations between exposure to AAP and the composition of the infant gut microbiota, which may have important implications for future infant health and development.