George Runger is quoted—and a study he led is cited—in the first day of a five-day series by the Arizona Republic on the Valley’s air quality issues. From “A Battle to Breathe”:
In 2008, working with then-Gov. Janet Napolitano’s health project for children, researchers found strong links between higher dust levels and asthma attacks among children in Phoenix.
The study analyzed more than 5,000 asthma incidents in an area bounded by Dunlap Road, Elliot Road, 52nd Street and 75th Avenue. Researchers matched up air-monitor records and found a 13.7 percent increase in asthma attacks among children between the ages of 5 and 18 when coarse-dust pollution levels spiked.
“That’s a strong link,” said George Runger, an ASU engineering professor and one of the study’s authors. “We compensated for as many effects as we could, such as temperature changes, and we still found a strong link.”
Runger and fellow researcher William Johnson, an ASU health economist, said the findings suggest the at-risk population is larger than suspected and that children and others most at risk of asthma attacks should be protected with consistent alert systems when air-pollution levels rise.