Comprehensive analysis finds harm from head to toe, including dementia, heart and lung disease, fertility problems and reduced intelligence.
According to A Review by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies’ Environmental Committee covered in The Guardian, damage to the human body from air pollution is worse than previously thought.
“Air pollution can harm acutely, as well as chronically, potentially affecting every organ in the body,” conclude the scientists from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies in the two review papers, published in the journal Chest. “Ultrafine particles pass through the [lungs], are readily picked up by cells, and carried via the bloodstream to expose virtually all cells in the body.”
Prof Dean Schraufnagel, at the University of Illinois at Chicago and who led the reviews, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if almost every organ was affected. If something is missing [from the review] it is probably because there was no research yet.”
The review represents “very strong science”, said Dr Maria Neira, WHO director of public and environmental health: “It adds to the very heavy evidence we have already. There are more than 70,000 scientific papers to demonstrate that air pollution is affecting our health.”
She said she expected even more impacts of air pollution to be shown by future research: “Issues like Parkinson’s or autism, for which there is some evidence but maybe not the very strong linkages, that evidence is coming now.”