Air pollution may age your lungs faster: Study
London: Exposure to outdoor air pollution is linked to decreased lung function and an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study of over 300,000 people published Tuesday.
COPD is a long-term condition linked to reduced lung function that causes inflammation in the lungs and a narrowing of the airways, making breathing difficult. According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide, and the number of global COPD deaths are expected to increase over the next ten years. Lung function normally declines as we age, but the research published in the European Respiratory Journal suggests that air pollution may contribute to the ageing process and adds to the evidence that breathing in polluted air harms the lungs.
"There are surprisingly few studies that look at how air pollution affects lung health," said Anna Hansell, a professor at the University of Leicester, UK. The researchers used a validated air pollution model to estimate the levels of pollution that people were exposed to at their homes when they enrolled in the UK Biobank study.
The types of pollutants the researchers investigated included particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are produced by burning fossil fuels from car and other vehicle exhausts, power plants and industrial emissions.