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Benefits of Improved Air Quality on the Aging Lungs
PDPI Jatim, 03 Jun 2019 23:12:21


Background: The beneficial effect of a reduction of outdoor air pollution on lung function in the elderly remains unclear, and scarce data exist regarding modifying factors such as BMI and genetics.

Objectives: To examine associations between decline in air pollutants (nitrogen dioxide [NO2], particulate matter [PM2.5, PM10] exposure) and lung function measures in elderly German women.

Methods: Data from the SALIA study (Study on the influence of Air pollution on Lung function, Inflammation and Aging) of elderly women were analysed (n=592). Spirometry (FEV1, FVC) was done at baseline (1985-1994; all women 55 years of age), first follow-up (2007-2010) and second follow-up (2012-2013). Air pollution concentrations at home addresses were determined for each time of investigation using land-use regression models and extrapolation procedures. GLI (Global Lung Initiative) age and height standardized z-scores were calculated. Adjusted linear mixed models were applied.

Results: FEV1 and FVC were below their expectation at baseline (mean z-scores<0) but z-scores increased to follow-up. Air pollution levels improved during the study period (e.g. NO2 from a mean of 39.05 to 23.28 µg/m3). Reduction of air pollution at home address was associated with an increase of z-scores for FEV1. For a decrease of 10 µg/m3 in NO2 the z-score for FEV1 increased by 0.13 [95%CI: 0.01; 0.26]. Additional factors that were beneficial for the aging lungs included losing weight.

Conclusions: Reduction of air pollution is associated with a relative improvement of lung function, still on-going in subjects >75 years. Inflammation might play an important role to healthy lung aging. This will be further investigated in a comprehensive gene-environment interaction study.

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