Expanding urban tree cover can reduce asthma hospitalization

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People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighborhood, suggests a new study published in the journal Environment International.

The study which evaluated more than 650,000 serious asthma attacks over a period of 15 years found that green space and gardens were associated with reductions in asthma hospitalization when pollutant exposures were lower but had no significant association when pollutant exposures were higher.

In contrast, tree density (an extra 300 trees per square km) was associated with fewer emergency asthma hospitalizations- 50 fewer emergency asthma cases per 100,000 residents over the study period in a typical urban area with a high level of background air pollution – 15 µg of PM 2.5 per cubic meter, or a nitrogen dioxide concentration around 33 µg per cubic meter.

Planting trees does not simply improve the esthetics of any city. More importantly, planting trees also helps the environment as trees improve the air quality. Air pollution is not only a major environmental hazard but also a major health hazard, in particular from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

The prevailing high pollution levels should be a matter of concern for us and each one of us should do our bit to help reduce air pollution. Expanding tree cover in areas of high pollution in cities, as suggested in this study, can improve respiratory health.

Each one of us can do something every day to prevent or at least help control the air pollution levels and keep the environment healthy. Planting trees is one way of doing so. It is also an economical way to curb the growing problem of air pollution.

We need to plant more trees to save our environment.

Exposure to air pollution in early pregnancy linked to miscarriage

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The adverse effects of air pollution on the lungs and heart are well-known and often spoken about.

Exposure to the toxic pollutants in the air can affect even the reproduction system.

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has suggested that exposure to common air pollutants, such as ozone and fine particles, may increase the risk of early pregnancy loss.

The study published online November 16, 2017 in the journal Fertility and Sterility examined the effect of the exposure to ozone in 501 couples based on pollution levels in their residential communities. Ozone is a highly reactive form of oxygen that is a primary constituent of urban smog.

  • Ninety-seven (28%) of the 343 couples who achieved pregnancy experienced an early pregnancy loss before 18 weeks.
  • Couples with higher exposure to ozone had a 12% greater risk of suffering an early pregnancy loss.
  • Couples exposed to particulate matter were 13% more likely to experience a loss.

Although the cause of pregnancy loss is not well understood, impaired fetal development due to increased inflammation of the placenta and oxidative stress has been suggested as a possible factor. Based on the findings of the study, pregnant women are advised to curtail outdoors activity when pollution levels are high and the air quality is of hazardous level.

(Source: NIH, November 16, 2017)

Air pollution increases the risk of diabetes

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Air pollution has been dominating headlines in the past few days and has been at an all time high in Delhi. The air quality in Delhi continues to remain in the severe category with no respite. There is increasing evidence for the role of environment in pathogenesis in many diseases with air pollution emerging as the largest environmental health risk globally. Exposure to the toxic air can affect the lungs blood vascular system brain and the heart leading to significant adverse health effects and associated high overall morbidity and mortality. Environmental pollution with traffic associated pollutants gaseous nitrogen dioxide especially high particulate matter PM 2.5 exposure has been linked with risk of incident diabetes. Several studies have shown a positive association between long term exposure to air pollution and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Individuals who have prediabetes are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. According to the WHO the air content of PM2.5 should be less than 10 956 g m3 but in India the levels are always more than 60 956 g m3 as 60 956 g m3 concentration has been accepted as normal in India. That means that an Indian is already six times more exposed to PM2.5. However recently extremely high levels of PM2.5 crossing 400 have been recorded. The risk of future diabetes associated with exposure to 10 956 g cu mm increase of PM2.5 ranges between 10 and 27 Endocrine. 2016 Jan 51 1 32 7 . Any particulate matter of less than 2.5 m in size can get absorbed from respiratory system enter into the blood. The exact mechanisms as to how air pollution causes diabetes Air pollutants are hypothesized to exert their effects via impaired endothelial function elevated systemic inflammation mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress all of which are hallmarks of type 2 diabetes Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Jul 26 7 384 94 . Increased oxidative stress leads to insulin resistance 946 cell dysfunction impaired glucose tolerance and ultimately type 2 diabetes. India has the second highest number of people living with diabetes 69.2 million with a prevalence of 8.7 . China has the highest number of people living with diabetes with 109 million cases of diabetes in the year 2015 and a prevalence of 10.6 . This scenario calls for high priority action to minimize the air pollution to contain the rising incidence of type 2 diabetes in the country. The responsibility towards this end lies with each one of us as it does with the government.

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