LONDON (Dispatches) -- A study of more than 300,000 people has found that exposure to outdoor air pollution is linked to decreased lung function and an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD is a long-term condition linked to reduced lung function that causes inflammation in the lungs and a narrowing of the airways, making breathing difficult. According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide, and the number of global COPD deaths are expected to increase over the next ten years.
Lung function normally declines as we age, but the new research published today (9 July, 2019) in the European Respiratory Journal  suggests that air pollution may contribute to the ageing process and adds to the evidence that breathing in polluted air harms the lungs.
Anna Hansell is Professor of Environmental Epidemiology in the Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability at the University of Leicester, UK, and was part of the research team. She said: "There are surprisingly few studies that look at how air pollution affects lung health. To try and address this, we assessed more than 300,000 people using data from the UK Biobank study to examine whether air pollution exposure was linked to changes in lung function, and whether it affected participants' risk of developing COPD."