World Asthma Day – one in five children in the UAE suffering from Asthma Says Reports
The air we breathe indoors is increasingly becoming a cause for concern with an estimated one in five children in the UAE suffering from Asthma, while a further 40% are prone to Allergic Rhinitis caused mainly by pollen, mould spores and dust mite allergens in the air.
World Asthma Day, which will be commemorated on May 3, 2011, is an annual awareness-raising event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), a collaboration between the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization.
Expressing concern at the research finding that respiratory allergies will increase at the rate of 70 pr cent in the MENA region over the next 25 years, experts pointed out that the direct annual cost per capita for Asthma and allergies in the MENA region is US$500, and that research done locally indicated that instead of coming down, the incidence of Asthma and breathing allergies in the UAE has significantly increased over the years.
According to Dr. Bassam Mahboub, Vice President of the Emirates Allergy & Respiratory Society (EARS), and Associate Professor at Sharjah University, key triggers for Asthma and breathing allergies in the UAE are mould, pollen and dust mite allergens – coughs, colds, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal congestion are commonly caused by airborne allergens and sufferers are often unaware that these are symptoms of allergies.
He added that if either parent suffered from Asthma or breathing allergies, then children were more likely to be susceptible, and that from research conducted across the Gulf and Near East, 52% of children who suffered from Asthma missed school in the preceding year.
Mr. Mihir Patel, CEO of Amancorp, exclusive regional distributors for Airfree® Air Purifiers, a European brand globally renowned for its simple, effective and maintenance-free air purification technology, said: “As residents of the Gulf, we suffer a disproportionately higher rate of breathing allergies and asthma according to the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), a World Health Organisation initiative. Interestingly, UAE research suggests that age (the younger the person), sex (females more than males), ethnicity (Arabs more than other races) and education levels (the more educated) all play a part in increasing one’s vulnerability to breathing allergies.”
Mr. Patel averred that although the UAE Government has implemented multiple standards for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) as part of the UAE National Strategy & Action Plan for Environmental Health, Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) Guidelines, Environmental Authority of Abu Dhabi Strategy (EAD), Abu Dhabi Environment, Health & Safety Centre (EHSMS), Dubai Municipality Building Control standards, and the Dubai Green Building regulations, much can still be done to make for optimum conditions, especially given that most people spend more than 90% of their day indoors, particularly in hot, arid environments like in the UAE.
“Improved Indoor Air Quality can improve health, concentration, productivity and sleep, and research conducted by the International Centre for Indoor environment & Energy (ICIEE) showed up to 35% improvement in mental arithmetic, comprehension and problem solving ability in school children with an improvement in Indoor Air Quality.” Mr. Patel revealed.
Mr. Patel said that in the present climate, and given the fact that we take in as much as 10,000 litres of air per day, the need to improve Indoor Air Quality is becoming increasingly apparent and important. Reduction in ambient fine particulate air pollution in the USA in the last 30 years has resulted in an increase in life expectancy by as much as 15%, and it is clear today that we need to invest in air purifiers to improve the general quality of our lives. He suggested that rather like bottled drinking water was deemed a luxury two decades ago, but has become a daily essential to life today, pure air is already a premium commodity in short-supply.
Consumers in the US lead the way in terms of air purifier purchases – the US market is worth an estimated $221m a year, in a $1.4bn air quality industry.
Health experts are increasingly advising that in hot & humid environments like the UAE, where there is an over-dependence on air-conditioning 24 hours a day for 365 days a year, and not much attention is paid to cleaning air ducts and filters – preserving Indoor Air Quality is the need of the hour.