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HEAL Science for Healthy Air Newsletter (July 2022). 
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HEAL Science/air NEWSLETTER JULY 2022
 
 
 
 
    SCIENCE FOR HEALTHY AIR QUALITY  
 
    Recent reports
 
 
 
 
Air pollution raises dementia risk: expert report
 
 
 

A report by the UK Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) presents the evidence on how exposure to emissions affect the brain over time, based on a review of almost 70 studies. The report concludes that air pollution is likely to increase the risk of accelerated “cognitive decline” and of “developing dementia” in older people. Experts believe this is due to the impact of pollutants entering the circulatory system, affecting blood flow to the brain. 

 
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Review finds stronger links between traffic pollution and ill-health
 
 
 
In the largest review of its type to date, a panel of thirteen renowned experts, led by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), evaluated 353 published scientific reports on traffic pollution and related health effects between 1980 and 2019. Authors highlight increasingly strong links between traffic pollution and early death due to cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer mortality, asthma onset in children and adults, and acute lower respiratory infections in children.
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    RECENT STUDIES
 
 
 
Low level PM pollution linked to
increased risk of premature death
 
 
 
According to a Canada-wide study, covering 7.1 million Canadian adults and spanning 35 years, levels of air pollution well below national and international air quality guidelines are associated with an increased risk of death. These premature deaths are the result of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, respiratory disease and COPD, from long-term exposure to air pollution,  and occur even at PM concentrations as low as 2.5μg/m3
(for reference: new WHO guidelines recommend an annual value of 5μg/m3, while the EU’s current annual PM2.5 standard is 25 ug/m3). 
 
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Fossil-Fuel Pollution
and Children’s Health
 
 
 

In a review article, authors extensively summarize the state of knowledge regarding fossil fuel-caused air pollution and children's health, and conclude that the fetus, infant and child is especially vulnerable to air pollution, with those socially and economically disadvantaged carrying the largest burden. Authors remind the reader that cost-saving interventions exist to address the causes of climate change and air pollution.
 
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Kawasaki disease in children linked to air pollution 
 
 
 
 
In a Korean study looking at the link between ambient air pollution and the development of Kawasaki disease, a condition where blood vessels become inflamed throughout the body, authors found that short‐term exposure to particulate matter (PM 2.5), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) may have a triggering role in the development of Kawasaki disease among children under 5 years of age.
 
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Air pollution levels linked to disease,
IQ decline in children
 
 
 
A US study analysed air quality and disease data in Massachusetts and concluded that air pollution, even at low levels found in the state (ranging from 2.7µg/m3 to 8.3µg/m3 for PM2.5), has major negative effects on the health of kids and adults. According to researchers, in 2019, 2,780 people died from air pollution-related causes in the state, 15,386 children developed asthma, 308 babies were born with low birth weight, and children experienced an average of two points in IQ decline.
 
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Various air pollutants linked to short-term heart attack risk
 
 
 
According to a study from China, considering 1.3 million people treated for acute coronary syndrome between 2015-2020, exposure to air pollutants - even at levels below current World Health Organization air quality guidelines - may trigger a heart attack within the hour. The risks were highest among older people and when the weather was colder. Various pollutants incl. PM2.5, NO2, SOx and CO had this impact, but exposure to NO2 was most strongly associated, followed by PM. 
 
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Air pollution linked to abnormal heartbeats
 
 
 

Using data from 146 patients from Piacenza, Northern Italy,
researchers investigated the relationship between air pollution
and ventricular arrhythmias
(meaning: abnormal heartbeats).
Their analysis suggests that arrhythmias are more common on days with highly polluted air. The study was conducted in patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), enabling the authors to track the occurrence of arrhythmias.
 
 
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