Effects of HEPA Air Cleaners on Unscheduled Asthma Visits and Asthma Symptoms for Children Exposed to Secondhand Tobacco Smoke

Child and Family Research Institute, British Columbia Children's Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 01/2011; 127(1):93-101. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-2312
Source: PubMed


The goal was to test the effects of high-efficiency, particulate-arresting (HEPA) air cleaners on unscheduled asthma visits and symptoms among children with asthma exposed to secondhand smoke.
We enrolled 225 eligible children who were 6 to 12 years of age, had physician-diagnosed asthma, and were exposed to ≥5 cigarettes per day. We conducted a double-blind, randomized trial. Children were assigned randomly to receive 2 active or inactive HEPA air cleaners.
Of 225 enrolled children, 110 (49%) were assigned to the intervention group and 115 (51%) to the control group; 215 (95%) completed the trial. During the trial, there were 42 fewer unscheduled asthma visits among children in the intervention group (18.5% [95% confidence interval: 1.25%-82.75%]; P = .043), compared with those in the control group, after adjustment for baseline differences. There was a significant difference in the reductions of levels of particles of >0.3 μm according to group assignment; there was a 25% reduction in particle levels in the intervention group, compared with a 5% reduction in the control group (P = .026). There were no significant differences in parent-reported asthma symptoms, exhaled nitric-oxide levels, air nicotine levels, or cotinine levels according to group assignment.
These results hold promise for using HEPA air cleaners as part of a multifaceted strategy to reduce asthma morbidity, but further research is necessary before they can be recommended routinely for the medical management of asthma.

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