‘Lungs may age faster due to air pollution’

Lungs may age faster due to air pollution
Representative Image

NEW DELHI: A study done by UK Biobank of over 300,000 people published on July 9, states that contact to outdoor air pollution is interrelated to reduced lung function and a bigger risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a condition that causes inflammation in the lungs and a narrow downs the airways, making breathing difficult.

COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide, and the number of global COPD deaths are expected to increase over the next 10 years, according to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project.

Anna Hansell, a professor at the University of Leicester said, “There are surprisingly few studies that look at how air pollution affects lung health.”

The researchers examined particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are formed by burning fossil fuels from car and other vehicle exhausts, power plants and industrial emissions.

Multiple tests were conducted to see how long-term exposure to higher levels of the different air pollutants was linked to changes to participants’ lung function. The sample participants’ age, sex, body mass index (BMI), household income, education level, smoking status, and passive exposure to smoke were accounted for in the analyses.

When the researchers assessed COPD prevalence, they found that among participants living in areas with PM2.5 concentrations above World Health Organisation (WHO) annual average guidelines of ten microgrammes per cubic meter, COPD prevalence was four times higher than among people who were exposed to passive smoking at home, and prevalence was half that of people who have ever been a smoker.

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