Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases: A Review by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies' Environmental Committee, Part 2: Air Pollution and Organ Systems. Academic Article Review uri icon


  • Although air pollution is well known to be harmful to the lung and airways, it can also damage most other organ systems of the body. It is estimated that about 500,000 lung cancer deaths and 1.6 million COPD deaths can be attributed to air pollution, but air pollution may also account for 19% of all cardiovascular deaths and 21% of all stroke deaths. Air pollution has been linked to other malignancies, such as bladder cancer and childhood leukemia. Lung development in childhood is stymied with exposure to air pollutants, and poor lung development in children predicts lung impairment in adults. Air pollution is associated with reduced cognitive function and increased risk of dementia. Particulate matter in the air (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 μm) is associated with delayed psychomotor development and lower child intelligence. Studies link air pollution with diabetes mellitus prevalence, morbidity, and mortality. Pollution affects the immune system and is associated with allergic rhinitis, allergic sensitization, and autoimmunity. It is also associated with osteoporosis and bone fractures, conjunctivitis, dry eye disease, blepharitis, inflammatory bowel disease, increased intravascular coagulation, and decreased glomerular filtration rate. Atopic and urticarial skin disease, acne, and skin aging are linked to air pollution. Air pollution is controllable and, therefore, many of these adverse health effects can be prevented.Copyright © 2018 American College of Chest Physicians. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • December 2019

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