Air cleaners can help kids who live with smokers

August 3, 2011 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Baltimore

A study shows that air cleaners can significantly reduce household air pollution and lower rates of asthma symptoms among kids living in homes with smokers.

The improvements are similar to those achieved by using anti-inflammatory asthma drugs. However, the level of air nicotine levels remained, leaving kids at risk of some effects of second-hand smoke.

So, the study researchers concluded in the Aug. 1 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine that air cleaners should only be used as a temporary measure as smokers seeks to quit. “Air cleaners appear to be a an excellent partial solution to improving air quality in homes of children living with a smoker but should not be viewed as a substitute for a smoke-free environment,” lead investigator, an asthma specialist at the Children's Center and professor of pediatrics at the Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The researchers followed 115 kids for six months. They lived in 41 homes, each with a smoker. A third got air cleaners, another third got air cleaners and heath education and the last third got neither but were given air cleaners at the end of the study.

There was a 50-percent drop in particulate matter in the homes with cleaners, though the homes never reached the air quality of smoke-free homes. The cleaners did meant 33 more days without coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing – the same as with the drugs.

Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children, with some 6.5 million affected in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About a third of U.S. kids live with a smoker.


Arlene Butz
Johns Hopkins Children’s Center