Researchers estimate mortality costs associated with air pollution in the U.S.
The researchers looked at 1400 patients with rhinitis from 17 different cities in various European countries. These range from Barcelona in Spain to Umea in Sweden. All the subjects were assessed by a questionnaire about the severity of their symptoms and how it interfered with daily activities. The level of air pollution in each of these cities was also derived from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE).
The study found that the most severe rhinitis symptoms are found in people living in cities where the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 are highest. An increase in the PM2.5 level by 5 μg/m3 is linked to a 17% increase in the chances of severe rhinitis, especially with respect to symptoms like congestion of the nose, irritation and sneezing. On the other hand, the presence of NO2 at significant levels is found to cause an increase in nasal discharge and congestion of the mucosa.
Both PM and NO2 are mostly due to vehicular pollution. They are thought to produce different effects because of the difference in the way in which they act on the respiratory tract, even though both cause inflammation.
Says lead author Emilie Burte, “The role of these pollutants in the severity of symptoms is probably linked to oxidative stress, apoptosis (a process by which irreparably damaged cells are eliminated) and inflammation. Our findings suggest that the effect of airborne particulate matter differs from that of gaseous emissions (NO2), probably because their respective mechanisms of action provoke different inflammatory responses in the respiratory tract; however, more studies are needed to validate this hypothesis.”
The current study helps to clarify the role of airborne particles in rhinitis which is a very common even if not disabling disease. It is a major issue in public health, affecting the productivity and wellbeing of those suffering from it. As a result, it taxes public health resources out of proportion to its position as a non-fatal disease, due to the urgent need for treatment that most sufferers feel, the percentage of absenteeism it provokes and the general decline in productivity due to the misery it causes. Journal reference:
Long-term air pollution exposure is associated with increased severity of rhinitis in 2 European cohorts Burte, Emilie et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(19)31636-7/abstract
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