A new study has revealed a link between air pollution and deteriorating lung health in adult European citizens.
Researchers found that children growing up in areas with higher levels of pollution will have lower levels of lung function and a higher risk of developing symptoms such as cough and bronchitis symptoms. They identified that people suffering from obesity are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of air pollution, possibly due to an increased risk of lung inflammation.
“The findings of this project are crucial as they demonstrate that air pollution is having a negative effect, not only on children as previously demonstrated, but also into adulthood,” Nicole Probst-Hensch, senior author of the study, said in a statement. “Although the levels we see in Europe are much lower than in the so-called megacities in China and India, we are still seeing a deterioration of lung function in people exposed to higher levels of air pollution and this must be addressed.”
Researchers said large proportion of Europe’s population live in areas with levels of air quality that are known to have negative impacts on health. Earlier this year, the WHO estimated that air pollution was the cause of seven million premature deaths in 2012, with 3.7 million of these being connected with poor outdoor air quality.
“The findings of this study demonstrate the importance of educating about clean air and the negative effects of air pollution. Urgent action is needed to tackle air pollution in Europe,” Professor Peter Barnes, president of the European Respiratory Society, said in a statement. “It is crucial that policymakers in Europe take note of these findings and update guidelines in Member States to meet the WHO recommended air quality standards. This will ensure equal protection of all citizens’ health across the continent.”