Long-term exposure to PM10 above 30 µg/m3 and to PM2.5 above 20 µg/m3 was associated with a 12 percent and 13 percent higher risk of autoimmune disease, respectively, they said.

According to an observational study, long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue and inflammatory bowel disease.

The team of researchers in Italy noted that environmental pollution from vehicle exhaust and industrial output can trigger adaptive immunity in which the body responds to a specific disease-causing entity.

However, sometimes this adaptive response fails, leading to systemic inflammation, tissue damage and ultimately autoimmune disease, they said.
Examples of autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, connective tissue disorders such as osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis.

The study, published in the journal RMD Open, mined Italy’s National Fracture Risk Database (DeFRA).

It collected comprehensive medical information on 81,363 men and women submitted by more than 3,500 physicians between June 2016 and November 2020.
Most were women (92 percent) with a mean age of 65, and 17,866 (22 percent) had at least one coexisting health condition. The researchers were particularly interested in the possible impact of particulate matter: PM10 and PM2.5.

Levels of 30 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) for PM10 and 20 µg/m3 for PM2.5 are the thresholds generally considered to be harmful to human health.
Between 2016 and 2020, approximately 9,723 people (12 percent) were diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

Air quality information was obtained from 617 monitoring stations in 110 Italian provinces.
The average long-term exposure between 2013 and 2019 was 16 µg/m3 for PM2.5 and 25 µg/m3 for PM10.

The study found that exposure to PM2.5 was not associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
However, PM10 was associated with a 7 percent increased risk for every 10 µg/m3 increase in levels, taking into account potentially influential factors, the researchers said.

Long-term exposure to PM10 above 30 µg/m3 and to PM2.5 above 20 µg/m3 was associated with a 12 percent and 13 percent higher risk of autoimmune disease, respectively, they said.

The researchers found that long-term exposure to PM10 was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, while long-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Long-term exposure to traffic and industrial air pollutants was associated with about a 40 percent higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis, a 20 percent higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease and a 15 percent higher risk of connective tissue disease, they said.

The researchers noted that the study is observational in nature and as such cannot identify a cause.
They also acknowledge several limitations that may have influenced their findings.

These include the lack of information on the dates of diagnosis and onset of autoimmune disease symptoms, and that air quality monitoring may not reflect personal exposure to pollutants.

However, they explained that air pollution has already been linked to immune system abnormalities, and smoking, which shares some toxins with fossil fuel emissions, is a predisposing factor to rheumatoid arthritis.


This post Exposure to air pollution linked to increased risk of autoimmune diseases: study was original published at “https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/health/air-pollution-exposure-linked-to-increased-autoimmune-disease-risk-study/2463037/”

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