Air pollution exposure may make our bones become weaker


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The number of health effects linked to air pollution keeps growing. We already know dirty air is associated with problems in the lungs, heart, uterus, and eyes and could potentially affect mental health – and now weaker bones can be added to the list. Researchers took readings of levels of PM2.5, a fine particulate form of pollution, at 23 sites outside Hyderabad in India. Then they worked with more than 3700 people – with an average age of 35.7 – in nearby villages to explore whether exposure to the air pollution was correlated with changes in the bone mineral content of their hips and spines, a measure of bone strength used to diagnose osteoporosis. “What we see overall is a quite consistent pattern of lower bone mineral content with increasing levels of air pollution,” says Cathryn Tonne at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. People in the area were exposed to average PM2.5 annual levels of 32.8 micrograms per cubic meter. This is three times higher than the safe limit recognized by the World Health Organization. After adjusting for other possible factors – including wealth – Tonne and colleagues found every extra 3 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 was associated with an average reduction in bone mineral density for both men and women of 0.011 grams per square centimeter in the spine, and 0.004 g/cm2 in the hip… Read more at

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