Toxicant and Disease Database
The CHE Toxicant and Disease Database is a searchable database that summarizes links between chemical contaminants and approximately 180 human diseases or conditions. Diseases and or toxicants can be viewed by utilizing the search options below. See a full description of the database and our methodology.
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Asthma - irritant
Causes Grouped by strength of evidence
particulate air pollution (soot)
tobacco smoke (active smoking)
Numerous agents have been associated with asthma - a few are included here. Regarding air pollutants, nitrogen and sulfer oxides may exacerbate asthma in individuals with the disease, but have not been found to cause asthma in healthy individuals. However diesel exhaust, a major source of PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide, has been causally associated with asthma. Ozone has been associated with both causing and exacerbating asthma. Risk of asthma is associated with both prenatal and postnatal exposure to secondhand smoke, and is clearly dose-related, with rates increasing with more smoking family members and in the homes of heavy smokers. Cigarette smoke resembles diesel exhaust and industrial emissions, containing a similar mix of tiny particles, thousands of toxic chemicals, and numerous respiratory irritants. Exposure to cigarette smoke and to outdoor air pollution may therefore cause similar asthmatic responses.