Air pollution and kidney disease
The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution is responsible for around 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year. Previous research has linked air pollution to dementia, chronic and acute respiratory diseases, various forms of cancer, stroke and premature skin ageing.
A new study, led by Ziyad Al Aly of the Veterans Affairs Saint Louis Health Care System, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, followed the health of 2.5 million armed force veterans for more than 8 years.
The study looked at the link between fine particulate pollution, measured by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ground based air monitoring stations. The researchers also ran a second analysis, using air pollution data collected by 2 of NASA’s orbiting satellites, Aqua and Terra to confirm the pollution data.
The researchers found a clear linear relationship between pollution levels and kidney disease, for every increase of 10 micrograms of fine particulates per cubic meter of air, the risk of chronic kidney disease increased by 27% and the risk of kidney failure by 26%.
Most concerning to the researchers was that even at low levels of pollution, lower than the EPA’s recommended limit of 12 micrograms per cubic meter kidney damage was evident. “The message is that no level of air pollution is really safe,” said Al Aly.
NOTE: The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology is a peer reviewed journal that publishes research articles, review articles and clinical studies focusing on kidney diseases and associated disorders.