WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to air pollution is associated with having multimorbid, multiorgan conditions, according to a study published online Dec. 2 in Frontiers in Public Health.

Amy Ronaldson, Ph.D., from King’s College London, and colleagues examined associations between long-term air pollution exposure and multimorbidity status, severity, and patterns using data from 156,395 participants in the U.K. Biobank. Multimorbidity (two or more conditions) was assessed for 41 physical and mental conditions at baseline (2006 to 2010).

The researchers found that higher exposures to particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were associated with multimorbidity status in a dose-dependent manner. For the highest air pollution quartile versus the lowest quartile, associations were strongest (PM2.5: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.21; NO2: aOR, 1.19). A similar dose-response association was seen for air pollutant exposures and multimorbidity severity scores. Eleven multimorbidity patterns were identified, which were strongest for comparisons between quartile 4 and quartile 1 of air pollution exposure and included neurological morbidities (stroke, epilepsy, alcohol/substance dependency; PM2.5: aOR, 1.31; NO2: aOR, 1.33) and respiratory patterns (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma; PM2.5: aOR, 1.24; NO2: aOR, 1.26).

“Our study suggests that it could be through shared mechanisms that air pollution negatively impacts several body systems and increases the likelihood of people developing multiple long-term health conditions,” a coauthor said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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