THURSDAY, July 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Ambient air pollution is associated with lower lung function and increased chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) prevalence, according to a study published online July 8 in the European Respiratory Journal.

Dany Doiron, Ph.D., from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, and colleagues evaluated U.K. Biobank data from 303,887 individuals (aged 40 to 69 years) with complete lung function measures.

The researchers found that higher exposures to each pollutant (particulate matter [PM2.5, PM10, and PMcoarse] and nitrogen dioxide [NO2]) were significantly associated with lower lung function. Every 5 µg/m³ increase in PM2.5 concentration was associated with lower forced expiratory volume in one second and forced vital capacity. There was an association between COPD prevalence and higher concentrations of PM2.5 (odds ratio [OR], 1.52 [95 percent confidence interval (CI), 1.42 to 1.62] per 5 µg/m³), PM10 (OR, 1.08 [95 percent CI, 1.00 to 1.16] per 10 µg/m³), and NO2 (OR, 1.12 [95 percent CI, 1.10 to 1.14] per 10 µg/m³), but not with PMcoarse (OR, 0.99 [95 percent CI, 0.91 to 1.07] per 5 µg/m³). Stronger associations between particulate matter and lung function were seen for men, individuals from lower-income households, and “at-risk” occupations. Stronger COPD associations were seen for obese, lower-income, and nonasthmatic participants.

“Further research is needed to investigate the differences in effects between people from lower- and higher-income homes,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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