Air Pollution Linked to Pneumonia Hospitalizations
Image credit: A6U571N/Flickr
Now, a new study conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, has linked exposure to air pollution to cases of pneumonia in elderly populations.The research focused on residents of Hamilton, Ontario. Traffic pollution and emissions from large industrial steel-making complex combine to create what researchers described as a "large exposure zone." More than 365 older hospital patients with radiological confirmed pneumonia were recruited.
Patients who had confirmed exposure of 12 months or more to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate demonstrated an increased susceptibility to developing pneumonia. The risk, among the elderly population, was doubled in the pollution-exposed group. Dr. Mark Loeb explained that:
Long-term exposure to air pollution may have increased individuals' susceptibility to pneumonia by interfering with innate immune defenses designed to protect the lung from pathogens; this may have included epithelial cell damage, reductions in bronchial macrophages, or reductions in natural killer cells.
He continued to say that, the study "emphasizes the need to monitor emissions from vehicles, given that ground level NO2 is derived predominantly from traffic."
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