Letter: Asthma link

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The Independent Online
YOUR ARTICLES on the relationship between air pollution caused by car exhausts and the upsurge of childhood asthma ('Plot to go soft on car fumes', 17 October, and 'Gasping for breath', 10 October) were examples of the middle-class obsession with pollution as opposed to housing.

While exhaust pollution may be one factor it is not the only one. The proliferation of house-dust mites offers a proven link between asthma and the immediate environment. It has been acknowledged since the early 1980s that damp and mouldy housing has a direct effect on the health of the occupants. Even the Department of the Environment acknowledges this.

As a building surveyor employed by solicitors to prosecute landlords for damp or mouldy premises, I estimate that 90 per cent of my clients and/or their children suffer from asthma.

By concentrating on the alleged link between asthma and traffic pollution, you are allowing the Government and MPs to avoid discussing the connection between asthma and damp or mouldy public sector housing. They have failed to discuss this subject (affecting some 6 million homes) for approximately 25 years.

Readers may remember similar allegations about lead in petrol and child health. Upon investigation it became apparent that the threat from lead in petrol was minimal; that from lead paintwork and pipes was far greater.

Gerald Kennedy