Air Pollution May Harm Kidneys

Dirty air has many well documented risk, one of the lesser known dangers is chronic kidney disease, as published in PLOS ONE.

Air pollution increases risk of respiratory problems as well as organ inflammation, worsen of diabetes and other life threatening conditions, new evidence suggests that air pollution also fuels chronic kidney disease. Individuals with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are at increased risk for developing chronic kidney disease. Much like smoking air pollution contains harmful toxins that directly affect the kidneys, high risk patients living in heavily populated or polluted area need to aware of the dangers and take precautions.

Air pollution contains fine particulate matter that consists of a cocktail of microscopic particles that are almost weightless staying in the air longer causing them to be unavoidably inhaled on a regular basis which can lead to serious health effects.

More than 27 million Americans are affected by chronic kidney disease, these individuals are at an eight fold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. PM2.5 is almost impossible to avoid, encountered in simple everyday activities such as driving, cooking, and breathing. Smoking, burning wood, packaged spray products, household appliances, industry, and vehicle emissions are other contributors to air pollution containing heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium known to negatively affect the kidneys.

Examination of several studies including an effort conducted in select coal mining areas revealed a 19% higher risk of CKD among men and 13% higher risk in women compared to those living in countries without mining. PM3.5 levels are lower in the USA than other industrialized countries such as India and China.

People living in heavily polluted areas, especially those at elevated risk, should take precautions when exposed to air pollution such as wearing a mask when outdoors, limit hours outside, and limit long hours commuting to work in high traffic. Many people don’t understand the seriousness of air pollution as it isn’t visible, but that doesn’t make it any less serious or important to health.