New Study Says Air Pollution is Comparable to Eating a High Fat Diet

A new study conducted by an international team of researchers has found that air pollution can play a role in the development of cardiometabolic diseases such as diabetes. But most startling is that the study also shows that living in a polluted region was comparable to eating a high-fat diet.

As Science Daily explained, researchers found that air pollution was a “risk factor for a risk factor” that contributed to other fatal problems like heart attack and stroke.

Why This Matters: Air pollution causes more than 9 million deaths per year and around the world, 9 out of 10 people breathe unhealthy air. As we keep learning more about the dangerous effects of air pollution on the human body, it’s become clear that its one of our most dangerous public health threats. But we’re not locked into this fate and we have the ability to clean up our air. As NRDC explained, most air pollution comes from energy use and production and if we invest in rapidly electrifying our grid as well as generating our energy from zero-emission sources, we can save countless lives in the process.

Especially because this study’s authors also empathized that the negative health effects were reversible with cessation of exposure. 

The Results: As Weather.com wrote, the results of the study could have a significant contribution in responding to severe heart attack and other such cardio-related risks.

  • As a next step, the researchers are planning to involve more experts and the National Institute of Health, to explore the possibility of clinical trials to compare heart health and the level of air pollution.
  • The researchers are hopeful that the study will encourage policymakers to act on the reduction of air pollution in highly polluted regions like India and China.

Small Particles, Big Problem: As the EPA has explained, the size of air pollution particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Fine particles (PM2.5) pose the greatest health risk as they can get deep into lungs and some may even get into the bloodstream. Exposure to these particles can affect a person’s lungs and heart (as reinforced by this latest study). Coarse particles (PM10-2.5) are of less concern, although they can irritate a person’s eyes, nose, and throat.

One Cool Thing: Shoe company Converse is collaborating with artists in 13 cities around the world to create giant murals as part of its Converse City Forests, using a special kind of paint that helps absorb air pollution.

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