Master’s Project: Helping Kids With Asthma Breathe Easier

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

(inspiring music) – Right before I started
my MP on the effects of air filtration on asthmatic children, which is something near
and dear to my heart, and I was able to get on that project. Dr. Jim Zhang was my advisor. He helped bring me onto this project which involved many different researchers, so he helped kind of place me in a part where I could contribute to this team, and have a finished product at the end that could potentially be publishable. To go into what is PM2.5,
it’s particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or smaller. And to put this into
context, a human hair strand is about 100 micrometers,
so this is really small. Because of its small size,
it can go deep into the lungs and cause a lot of inflammation or other oxidative stress at times. With asthmatic children, they already have decreased lung function, or inflammation that’s just kind of chronic. And having this additional
exposure to these particulates can have increased
respiratory effects for them. We used an Amway Atmosphere
filtration device, which is kind of a higher-end home unit. And it used a HEPA filter, so that’s a high-efficiency
particulate air filter. To be classified as
that, it needs to remove 99.97% of particulates,
.3 micrometers or smaller. So the intervention of a
filtration unit within a bedroom is hypothesized to reduce
indoor PM2.5 concentrations, thereby reducing personal
exposure to PM2.5, and having a positive health endpoint, which in this case would
be an increase in your peak expiratory flow measurements. Throughout the study
period, every single day, the individuals measures their PEF at 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. daily. They would blow three times into the meter and record their maximum value. I did find that PEF was
significantly influenced by the intervention of
the filtration device. And it did have a positive health endpoint of increased PEF. We that by having the filters
in the children’s bedrooms, it reduced the particulate
matter 2.5 concentration by about 60%, so that
was really significant. Having some justification
that these filters actually do help this specific demographic hasn’t been shown before,
so that is something that I think filtration companies are going to be excited to hear about. The data analysis portion of this project is going to be the most helpful moving forward in my
career, wrangling the data, becoming really familiar with it, and doing specific nonparametric tests is important with environmental data sets. So while the study took place in Shanghai, the air pollution measurements and concentrations in Shanghai are comparable to many other areas in developed and developing countries. These levels are not necessarily the same as in the United States,
but in high-pollution areas, or potentially near areas of forest fire or controlled burns, the
levels can be comparable. And so these results can extend beyond just the Shanghai region. (inspiring music)

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