Article

Air Quality: Health Effects

C. Arden Pope

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online February 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0122
Air Quality: Health Effects

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Ambient air pollution has long been implicated as a contributor to adverse health effects. Severe air-pollution episodes in the early and mid–20th century demonstrated that extreme exposure to air pollution can result in serious illness or death. Beginning around 1990 there was a dramatic growth in epidemiological research regarding the contribution of air-pollution exposure to cardiopulmonary disease and mortality. Daily time-series and related studies indicate that short-term exposure exacerbates existing cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and increases the risk of becoming symptomatic, requiring medical attention, or even of dying. Population-based cross-sectional studies and cohort-based studies indicate that long-term repeated exposures increase the risk of chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular disease and death. Various intervention or natural-experiment studies have provided both indirect and direct evidence that public-policy efforts that reduce air pollution can result in improved health. Toxicological research, in concert with epidemiological research, has attempted to elucidate mechanistic pathways that link exposure to air pollution and cardiopulmonary disease and mortality. This research suggests that general mechanistic pathways include pulmonary and systemic oxidative stress and inflammation, enhanced initiation and progression of atherosclerosis, and altered cardiac autonomic function. Attempts to evaluate the constituents or characteristics of air pollution most responsible for these health effects have generally implicated combustion-related fine particles and associated air pollutants as being largely responsible.

Article.  7669 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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