Thursday, December 20, 2007

PRBB research: a cleaner air improves lung function

The exposition to pollution from diesel vehicles makes people with asthma worsen and the lung capacity of the general population decrease at a faster rate. These are the conclusions of two international studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which Nino Kunzli and Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, from CREAL and IMIM-Hospital del Mar, have participated.

The first study analyses 4,742 Swiss people during 10 years and shows for the first time in adults that the improvement in the air quality slows down the lung function ageing. Kunzli says: “we knew that the lung function degradation in smokers is slowed down when they quit. Now we know that ‘quitting’ pollution has the same result”.

The second article studies the decrease in the lung function in 60 adults with asthma after walking for 2h on Oxford Street, full of buses and diesel vehicles, which liberate 100 times more particles than petrol motors. The study demonstrates empirically for the first time that even short exposures to diesel reduce lung function, worsen asthma symptoms and increase lung inflammation. According to Nieuwenhuijsen, “with 2.5 millions of asthmatics in Spain, where 30% of vehicles are diesel, it is important to know the risks of the exposition to this pollutant”.

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