Air pollution could be linked to the increase in cardiovascular disease and lung cancer mortality, according to two separate studies published today in The Lancet journal.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh conducted a systematic analysis of previous researches evaluating the heart failure hospitalization and mortality caused by air pollutants. Based on their analysis, researchers found that an acute exposure to gaseous carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate air pollutants increased the risk from cardiovascular disease and subsequent hospitalization. The risk of heart attack was found to be highest during the day when exposed to the polluted air.
According to American Lung Association, the quality of air in America has been improved, and the overall quality in the air is quite satisfactory. However, 42% of people still live in highly polluted areas. Anoop SV Shah and his colleagues estimated that even a small reduction in particulate matter pollution in America can effectively avoid 7978 hospitalizations due to heart failure each year.
An international team of scientists led by Dr Ole Raaschou-Nielsen of Danish Cancer Society Research Center evaluated the link between long-term exposure to air pollution and lung cancer. Researchers based their study on 17 previous European research projects.
Investigators observed that the even a minute increase of five micrograms in the particulate matter (PM2. 5) in the air intensify the risk of lung cancer by 18%.
Researchers followed a novel analytic methodology to overcome the limitations of other studies, which had focused on the risk due to smoking. The authors opine that since almost everyone is exposed to air pollution, the impact of general public health is huge. According to WHO, measures to reduce air pollution, especially the particulate pollutants, even by a marginal volume, may greatly benefit the health of all people.
The authors conclude that even with current concentrations of air pollutants, it is possible to control them and establish a safer environment.
Another study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences had reported that the life expectancy of humans exposed to suspended air pollutants, mainly due to burning coal, were reduced by nearly five and a half years.
This reduction in life expectancy was attributed to deterioration of cardiovascular health in the people exposed to polluted air.
The authors stated that now is the time that the government administrators of developing nations learn to balance economic growth and public health safety.
The findings of studies from different regions around the world clearly indicate the need for measures to protect our environment in order to lead a healthy life.
Earlier this month, a study by the U.S. Forest Service and Davey Institute found that the planting of urban trees have a huge potential in removing the dangerous fine particulate matter from the air, thus creating a fresh healthy environment. It was estimated that trees save around eight lives every year in New York.
Four cities namely, Bismarck, North Dakota, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Palm Bay, Florida, as well asMelbourne, Titusville and Rapid City were found to be the cleanest cities in US according to the American Lung Association. According to the US Environmental Agency, the Clean-Air Act and the amendments to the act would prevent more than 230,000 early deaths in 2020.
The agency has taken strenuous steps to monitor and control air pollution linked to cardiovascular and lung Cancer mortality increase. The current air quality and volume of air pollutants at any particular region in US can be tracked using the maps provided in AirNow.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas