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Automobile Traffic, Atmospheric Pollution, and Childhood Asthma

Arthur E. Varner, MD
JAMA. 2001;285(21):2712-2713. doi:10.1001/jama.285.21.2712.
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To the Editor: Dr Friedman and colleagues1 reported a reduction in asthma events in children in Atlanta during the Olympic games and related this to lower atmospheric levels of pollution and ozone that resulted from decreased automobile traffic. However, the baseline comparison of 4 weeks prior to and 4 weeks after the Olympics may have been inappropriate. In children, asthma exacerbations are commonly associated with both allergen exposure2 and viral infections.3 The time of the Olympics, from July 19 to August 4, is when one would expect the lowest asthma morbidity in regards to mold, pollen, dust mites, and respiratory viral infection exposure. Although mold counts were not significantly different in the 3 time periods, it appears from Figure 2 that significant peaks in mold counts occurred before and after the time of the Olympics. A more appropriate comparison would have been with the same time period in previous years.

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