- Even the briefest increase in fine
particulate matter PM2.5 is associated with the development of acute lower
respiratory infection in young children.
- The study found that the
infectious processes of respiratory disease may be influenced by
particulate matter pollution at various biological levels.
- Elevated levels of PM2.5 was
associated with ALRI in both children and adults, even in newborns and
toddlers up to the age of two.
Even the slightest
increase in airborne fine particulate matter PM2.5 is associated with the
development of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in young children,
suggests new study. The study is the largest till date to evaluate the
association between the two factors. The study was conducted by research teams
from Intermountain Healthcare, Brigham Young University and University of Utah
and is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, an
American Thoracic Society journal.
to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5
micrometers. These particles are about 3% the diameter of a human hair. They
are so small that they can go into the lungs and may cause serious health
problems. Forty eight percent
of emissions that lead to the
formation of these particulate matter are contributed by motor vehicles. Thirty nine percent of all fine particulates is from small industry and businesses
such as gas stations and dry cleaners, as well as home heating. Thirteen
percent is from large manufacturing.
The study involved
more than 1,00,000 patients and is the largest to date to study the effect of
increase in fine particulate matter on lung infections in children. The study
also wanted to look at the same associations for older children, adolescents
‘Even the briefest increase in fine particulate matter PM2.5 may cause acute lower respiratory infection in young children.’
studied 146,397 individuals who were treated for acute lower respiratory
infection (ALRI) between 1999 and 2016 at Intermountain Healthcare facilities
throughout Utah's Wasatch Front region. The levels of PM2.5 were estimated
based on data from air quality monitoring stations along the Wasatch Front.
- Short-term periods of rise in
PM2.5 matched with the timing of increases in health care visits for ALRI.
- Infectious processes of respiratory disease may be
influenced by particulate matter pollution at various levels.
- ALRI associated with elevated
levels of PM2.5 was observed in both children and adults. The association
was also present in newborns and toddlers up to age two.
- PM2.5 may damage the airway so
that the disease causing virus can successfully cause an infection or
PM2.5 may impair the immune response making the body is less effective in
fighting off the infection.
While this study
was conducted in a region where PM2.5 spike up occasionally, the team has not
studied the effect on ALRI in regions where air pollution exposure is higher
over the long term but short term spikes do not occur.
places that have higher average PM2.5, the PM2.5 level does not vary as much as
it does on the Wasatch Front, so it is not clear how this study's findings may
transfer to those locales where the Air Pollution
exposure is higher over the
long term but short term spikes do not occur," said lead author Benjamin
Horne, PhD, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the
Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr.
Horne. "It may be, though, that long-term exposure to air pollution makes people more susceptible to ALRI on a
routine basis, although additional studies will be required to test this
The study findings
suggest that when an acute increase in the level of PM2.5 occurs, people could
prevent ALRI and alleviate symptoms by reducing their exposure to the air
- Air pollution - (http://www.who.int/ceh/risks/cehair/en/)