A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine finds that the effects of pollution and congestion on health are not infectious.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis School of Public Health found that air pollution, including the particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (NOx) that causes smog, can cause the release of inflammatory cytokines, which can lead to a variety of chronic diseases, including asthma and COPD.
“It was really exciting to find that chronic inflammation in our model could be triggered by a small change in air pollution,” lead author Michael H. Connolly said in a press release.
“The inflammation we found in our models did not show up in the data when we looked at data for chronic diseases.
But it did in chronic disease models, which we then tested to see if we could see an effect.”
While there’s no definitive proof that chronic air pollution causes cancer, it’s known that it can be a risk factor for respiratory disease and COPE.
While it’s still unknown how much of a connection there may be between these two diseases, researchers say the findings support the theory that air pollutants can lead directly to some chronic diseases in the population.
The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, was conducted with more than 30,000 people in 20 U.S. states and found that the release and retention of cytokines could be linked to lung disease, including COPD, but not COPD itself.
“Our study found that our model predicted that chronic inflammatory disease could be associated with air pollution exposure,” said Dr. James E. Hirsch, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UC Davis and one of the study’s authors.
“However, the mechanism underlying the relationship was not yet clear.
This suggests that our findings have important public health implications.””
Our model predicted the release in chronic inflammatory diseases would be associated to chronic air pollutants, but the mechanisms by which these changes occur in chronic air polluted models are unknown,” Dr. Hensh said.
“These findings are important because they provide a possible mechanism for chronic air quality exposure to affect lung function in the healthy population, but also suggest that chronic pollution exposure could potentially have an effect on lung health in people with COPD.”
While the findings could lead to further research into the effects that air quality has on chronic diseases and asthma, researchers said they also believe that the research could help to understand how air pollution and pollution may be linked.
The researchers found that chronic and chronic inflammatory conditions were more common in people living near areas with higher concentrations of particulate pollution than in those living in areas with lower concentrations.
“In other words, the higher concentrations in people exposed to air pollution tended to cause the chronic inflammatory condition,” Dr Henshr said.
“This is particularly interesting because we previously have shown that the health effects of particulates can be triggered in a variety and of ways by a variety [of] exposures,” he added.
Dr. Hosenko said the findings are particularly important for people living in rural areas where air pollution can be extremely harmful.
“They are in close proximity to very polluted areas and they are exposed to pollutants in ways that are quite unpredictable,” he said.
Dr Connolly, who is also a professor of respiratory medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine, said the study “provides compelling evidence that chronic exposure to air pollutants has effects on health that extend beyond chronic respiratory disease.”
“It’s exciting to know that this may not be a one-size-fits-all explanation for chronic inflammatory and COPS, but it may provide a mechanism to explain why the health impact of air pollution is so complicated,” he concluded.