Pollution a Likely Contributor to Rising Asthma Rates

Asthma rates are climbing around the world, and though scientists can’t say precisely what’s causing the increase, pollution is thought to be a serious contributor. The respiratory disease has become a particular problem in Asia, where terrible air quality, rapid urbanization, and poor medical treatment have contributed to a troublingly high asthma death rate. Wealthier countries are afflicted too: More than 18 percent of the population of Scotland suffers from asthma, making it the nation with the highest asthma rate in the world. In the U.S., the number of asthma sufferers grew by 75 percent between 1980 and 1994. All told, about 300 million people worldwide have asthma, and that number may rise by 50 percent over the next two decades, say researchers.