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Review Emphasizes Need to Tackle Air Pollution

Air pollution is a severe threat to public health worldwide. Ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which consists of minute particles suspended in the air with a diameter of less than or equal to 2.5 µm, is a major air pollutant connected to health hazards. The WHO recommends that yearly PM2.5 levels not exceed 5 µg/m3.

Review Emphasizes Need to Tackle Air Pollution

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However, current PM2.5 levels in China substantially surpass this limit, accounting for nearly 1.4 million additional deaths due to PM2.5. Even as the government attempts to reduce its PM2.5 footprint, it is beneficial to grasp the most recent developments in the epidemiology of PM2.5-related disorders, particularly cardiopulmonary diseases.

Scientists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention have recently reviewed the most recent epidemiological achievements related to the cardiopulmonary repercussions of PM2.5 in the Chinese population, thanks to extensive collaborative efforts. The review, published on February 5th, 2023, in the Chinese Medical Journal, focuses on how PM2.5 influences morbidity, mortality, and risk factors for cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.

Compared with other diseases, cardiopulmonary disease is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity associated with PM2.5. Over the last decade, most studies have found that PM2.5 is associated with morbidity, mortality, and risk factors for cardiopulmonary disease.

Dr. Xiaoming Shi, Study Corresponding Author, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The investigators examined data from recent large-scale, multi-center studies from China for the review to account for the effects of both short-term and long-term exposure to PM2.5. For example, one time-series analysis based on mortality data from 130 Chinese counties discovered that every 10 μg/m3 rise in PM2.5 levels raises the chance of death from cardiocerebrovascular diseases by 0.12%.

According to the review, PM2.5 increases the chance of developing cardiovascular disease, such as heart failure, ischemic heart disease, arrhythmia, and ischemic stroke, as well as the risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular reasons. Changes in functional indexes and biomarkers like heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammatory molecules may suggest an increase in risk.

Moreover, for every 10 μg/m3 rise in PM2.5 concentration, the chance of respiratory mortality increased by 1.68%. Increases in PM2.5 levels have also been linked to higher rates of hospitalization for respiratory disorders and pediatric respiratory outpatient visits. The acute effects of PM2.5 have been linked to functional outcomes like peak expiratory flow and forced expiratory volume or capacity.

This research is used by the authors to propose a set of intervention approaches to combat the effects of ambient PM2.5 on cardiac health. They recommend the government intervenes to enhance industrial emission standards, replace industrial boilers, implement cutting-edge industrial technology to reduce emissions, and promote clean fuels for residential use.

In accordance with China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and sustainable development goals, these initiatives could lower both PM2.5 pollution and its health impacts. On a personal level, using air purifiers and masks can protect people from the dangers of PM2.5, especially if they reside in high-PM2.5 locations.

The Chinese government has formulated carbon neutrality goals to reach a peak as soon as possible (before 2030), achieve rapid emission reduction by 2030 to 2050, and net-zero emissions by 2050 to 2060. Clean air action depends on effective supervision, inter-departmental cooperation to promote supervisory work, and the strict implementation of actions and requirements.

Dr. Xiaoming Shi, Study Corresponding Author, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

In conclusion, by documenting the most recent epidemiological evidence, this study can serve as a critical reference for defining PM2.5 reduction and health improvement targets in China. It also emphasizes the importance of additional study in various areas, such as the identification of extremely sensitive biomarkers and the pathogenic consequences of PM2.5 constituents on health.

Journal Reference:

Li, T., et al. (2023). Ambient fine particulate matter and cardiopulmonary health risks in China. Chinese Medical Journal.


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