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Study makes concerning revelation about the impact of air pollution: 'Even temporary deteriorations in air quality can have immediate adverse effects'

"This awareness is crucial."

"This awareness is crucial."

Photo Credit: iStock

Research on the effects of air quality on human health has delivered staggering results. 

For example, a study has found that one in three people in the United States are breathing dirty air. Keeping our air clean and citizens healthy is greatly linked, with poor air quality associated with an increased likelihood of asthma, lung cancer, and cognitive issues. 

For people already dealing with cardiovascular disease and cancer, air pollution risks are even more troubling.

What's happening?

In a study published by the American College of Cardiology and featured on Medical Xpress, a team of researchers discovered that exposure to PM2.5 particulate matter — inhalable particles measuring 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller — can increase the risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality among cancer patients, even with short-term exposure. 

While studies have analyzed the effects of air pollution on cardiovascular disease and cancer, researchers found only eight studies that explicitly looked at the combined effect of air pollution on both conditions. 

"The review underscores the critical need to consider environmental factors, especially air pollution, in cardio-oncology risk assessment and patient management," said Xiaoquan Rao, a cardiologist at Tongji Hospital in China and senior author of the study, per Medical Xpress

When discussing short-term exposure, Rao added: "This suggests that even temporary deteriorations in air quality can have immediate adverse effects on vulnerable populations such as cardio-oncology patients." 

Why is short-term exposure to air pollutants concerning?

The research team from the American College of Cardiology noted that air pollution has contributed to health disparities globally. It also found cancer patients with a lower socioeconomic status were particularly at risk of air pollution-related cardiovascular disease mortality when compared to the general public.  

According to the American Lung Association, there are 131 million people (39%) in the United States living in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. 

What's more, as of 2023, levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere are 50% higher than before the Industrial Revolution, per The New York Times. 

Some communities are disproportionately affected by poor air quality, with people of color being 2.3 times more likely to live in high-pollution areas. 

What's being done about it?

"This awareness is crucial for developing tailored air-pollution exposure control measures and individualized patient management strategies aimed at mitigating cardiovascular disease risks among cancer patients," Rao said, as Medical Xpress shared.  

The researchers will now look at how environmental interventions have helped to decrease the impact of air pollution on cardio-oncology patients and examine the dangers associated with specific types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. 

Understanding the impacts of air pollution can inform communities about how to reduce air pollution. Community solar schemes, where residents access clean energy from local solar farms, can help to reduce reliance on polluting coal-fired power plants and reduce energy bills.

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