Exposure to air pollution may have a direct role in triggering diseases as well as airway inflammation in children and adolescents with rheumatic conditions such as lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, pain and swelling.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or lupus can damage any part of the body.
In addition to affecting the skin and joints, it can affect other organs in the body such as the kidneys, the tissue lining the lungs and heart, and the brain. Most patients feel fatigue and have rashes, arthritis (painful and swollen joints) and fever, according to American College of Rheumatology.
This study, conducted in Brazil, confirmed a direct link between an individual’s personal exposure to fine pollution particles and their lupus disease activity.
“Our findings have shown that air pollution doesn’t just increase the incidence and prevalence of chronic lung disease and acute respiratory infections, lung cancer, heart disease and strokes, it is also an important contributory factor in childhood rheumatic diseases, such as lupus,” said Maria Fernanda Goulart from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“With air pollution increasing in many major cities, paediatric rheumatologists can expect to see a resultant impact on the disease activity of their lupus patients,” she added.
Using a standard measure of moderate to severe lupus disease activity, an increase of 18.12 ug/m3 ( micrograms per cubic meter air) in the daily concentration of the most dangerous of the airborne pollution particles PM2.5 was associated with a significant increase in lupus activity at four and 11 days after exposure.
The results were presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2016) in London.