The latest research, presented at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress, on the topic of air pollution.
The latest evidence showing the overall impact of air pollution on health was shared at the ERS International Congress.
A talk was delivered by the European Respiratory Society’s Chair of the Environment and Health Committee, Zorana Andersen. It covered the effects of air pollution on different parts of the body and who is most vulnerable to these effects.
Long-term exposure (over years or a lifetime) to air pollution can lead to problems with how the lungs work, the development of new lung conditions in otherwise healthy individuals, such as lung cancer or COPD, and increased risk of dying from those diseases.
Short-term exposure (hours, days) to air pollution can worsen existing lung conditions and trigger symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and even increase the risk of death.
In addition to these effects on our lungs, particles from air pollution can also reach our bloodstream, contributing to an increased risk of heart disease.
Cancer causes 1 in 4 deaths in the EU.
Air pollution has been found as a cause of lung cancer. New evidence has also begun to suggest that air pollution can possibly cause other types of cancer such as breast, liver and blood.
The European Union (EU) Green Deal, which aims to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, is now a key tool to limit people’s exposure to air pollution and prevent cancer.
Studies show that air pollution affects the way our brain functions.
This is particularly worrying in children whose brains are in the early stages of development. Air pollution can reduce this development, leading to the onset of learning difficulties or autism.
Air pollution has also been linked to a faster decline in the brain function of the elderly, alongside an increased risk of dementia.
Newest evidence also links air pollution to a decline in our mental health and wellbeing, leading to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
A new study looked at the number of reported diseases in the area of Po Valley, Italy and assessed whether these were linked to air pollution.
The study took data from the Estimation of Morbidity from Air Pollution and its Economic Costs (EMAPEC) project, coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The research concluded that:
The latest evidence looking at exposure to air pollution in urban areas was presented.
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