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Air Pollution Identified as a Life-threatening Illness: Study

"Our knowledge of the health effects of PM is still lacking in many areas," said researchers at the University of Southampton in UK

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Officials of CEED highlighted the fact that health must be the central point or focus for any kind of action on air pollution. Pixabay

Health related problems linked to air pollution could be far higher than previously thought, as researchers have found that short term exposure to fine particulate matter in the air (known as PM2.5) is associated with several newly identified causes of hospital admissions, even at levels below international air quality guidelines.

Air pollution has for the first time been linked life-threatening illnesses – including sepsis, kidney failure and urinary tract infections, according to the study published in the journal The BMJ.

The study also confirms several previously established causes of hospital admission associated with short term exposure to PM2.5 including heart and lung diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes.

These associations remained even when the analysis was restricted to days when the PM2.5 concentration was below the WHO air quality guideline.

“Discovered several new causes of hospital admissions associated with short term exposure to PM2.5 and confirmed several already known associations, even at daily PM2.5 concentrations below the current WHO guideline,” said study researchers from Harvard Chan School of Public Health in US.

“Economic analysis suggests that even a small increase in short term exposure to PM2.5 is associated with substantial economic effect,” the added.

The researchers also suggest that the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines need revising.

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FILE – Pollution and clouds are seen over the sky of Barcelona, Spain, July 25, 2019. VOA

For the findings, the research team analysed more than 95 million Medicare hospital insurance claims for adults aged 65 or older in the US from 2000 to 2012.

Causes of hospital admission were classified into 214 mutually exclusive disease groups and these were linked with estimated daily exposure to PM2.5 based on data from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The researchers then estimated the increased risk of admission and the corresponding costs associated with a 1 ug/m3 increase in short term exposure to PM2.5 for each disease group.

They found that each 1 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with 2,050 extra hospital admissions, 12,216 days in hospital, and $31m (£24m, €28m) in care costs for diseases not previously associated with PM2.5 including sepsis, kidney failure, urinary tract and skin infections.

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The researchers point to some study limitations, such as being unable to fully capture costs after discharge, or take account of other factors that could trigger hospital admission, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug use.

However, strengths include the large sample size over a 13-year period and results that remained similar after further analyses, suggesting that they are robust.

“Our knowledge of the health effects of PM is still lacking in many areas,” said researchers at the University of Southampton in UK. (IANS)

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Reduction in Air Pollution May Increase Life-Expectancy: Study

Findings of a Research indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution

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Pollution
Fortunately, reducing air Pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Pixabay

Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking.

Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke, and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

“We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive,” said lead author Dean Schraufnagel from the American Thoracic Society in the US.

“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately,” Schraufnagel added.

Pollution
Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests. Pixabay

According to the researchers, In the US a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half.

School absenteeism decreased by 40 per cent, and daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease.

Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

A 17-day ‘transportation strategy,’ in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution.

In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 per cent and trips to emergency departments by 11 per cent. Hospitalizations for asthma decreased by 19 per cent.

WHO
Findings of the Study indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately. Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

“Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks,” Schraufnagel said.

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Local programmes, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures, said the study. (IANS)