Impact of air pollution on health may be far worse than thought, study suggests

(The Guardian, 27 Nov 2019) Results chime with earlier review indicating almost every cell in the body may be affected by dirty air.

The number of health problems linked to air pollution could be far higher than previously thought, according to research suggesting hospital admissions for conditions ranging from heart failure to urinary tract infections increase as air becomes dirtier.

Air pollution has already been associated with a number of conditions, from strokes to brain cancer, miscarriage and mental health problems.

However, the research suggests the impact could be far wider, despite looking at only one component of air pollution, chiming with a global review published earlier this year that indicated almost every cell in the body may be affected by dirty air.

“The drive behind [the new research] was to do the most comprehensive study ever conducted at looking at all possible causes of hospitalisation that could be [linked] to exposure to fine particulate matter,” said Prof Francesca Dominici, ofHarvard University and co-author of the study.

Writing in the BMJ, Dominici and colleagues report how they analysed more than 95m insurance claims made between 2000 and 2012 by hospital inpatients in the US aged 65 or older enrolled in the Medicare programme.

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The Guardian, 27 Nov 2019: Impact of air pollution on health may be far worse than thought, study suggests