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Word of the Week: Asthmagen

Asthmagens are substances that are known to cause or exacerbate asthma. Asthma is a complex disease, and there is not enough evidence to point to any single cause. Public health agencies often report dust, pet dander, environmental air pollution, tobacco smoke, respiratory infections, mold, exercise, and stress as common triggers of asthma attacks.

Health organizations have also identified a number chemical asthmagens, including many that are commonly used in building materials, such as floorings, insulations and cabinet substrates. These chemicals include:  formaldehyde, toluene, styrene, BPA and certain phthalate plasticizers.  

Despite better management of asthma through medication, improved outdoor air quality and a dramatic decline in tobacco smoking, the incidence of asthma has continued to rise, especially in children -- and in particular among children who are living in poverty.