Higher Levels of Air Pollution Tied to Deteriorating Lung Health Among European Citizens

First Posted: Sep 06, 2014 05:09 AM EDT

A new study links exposure to high levels of air pollution to declining lung health among adult European citizens.

Led by the European Lung Foundation, the latest study supports previous reports that revealed children raised in regions with elevated levels of pollution have lower levels of lung function and are at an increased risk of developing cough and bronchitis syndrome.

Apart from this, the latest study has identified that obese people are most vulnerable to face the brunt of increasing air pollution levels. They suspect that this is mainly due to the increased risk of lung inflammation.

Senior author Nicole Probst-Hensch and lead author Martin Adam, from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, said: "The ESCAPE project has clearly confirmed that air quality largely differs across Europe. The findings of this project are crucial as they demonstrate that air pollution is having a negative effect, not only on children as previously demonstrated, but also into adulthood. Although the levels we see in Europe are much lower than in the so-called megacities in China and India, we are still seeing a deterioration of lung function in people exposed to higher levels of air pollution and this must be addressed."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in collaboration with the European Protection Agency (EPA) found that poor quality of air leads to an estimated 50,000 premature deaths each year. Air pollution is known to cause asthma attacks, eye-nose-throat irritation, heart attacks and other respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

According to Professor Peter Barnes, President of the ERS, this study highlights the need to educate about the importance of clean air as well as the negative effects of air pollution. Immediate measures need to be taken to control air pollution in Europe Policy makers should consider the finding and update the guidelines to meet the recommendation of WHO air quality standard.

The study reports that majority of Europe's population reside in regions where air pollution level is high and the air quality there is known to cause impact the health negatively. Last year, it was estimated by WHO that air pollution led to seven million premature deaths in 2012, in which 3.7 million were tied to poor outdoor air quality.

The results are documented in the European Respiratory Journal.

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