TUESDAY, July 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The heat coupled with smog it can be a particularly deadly mix, especially for older adults, a new study finds.
Unfortunately, both high temperatures and air pollution will rise as the planet warms, as will deaths, the researchers report.
“We are experiencing more and more frequent forest fires, which cause pollution and forest fires happen during the hottest days. So there will be more such cases in the future,” said lead researcher Md Mostafijur Rahman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
Although extreme heat and air pollution each increase the risk of dying, the combination increases the risk exponentially, he noted.
Extremely hot days increase the risk of dying by just over 6%. On days when air pollution is high, the risk of death increases by 5%. However, on very hot and highly polluted days, that risk increases by 21%, Rahman said.
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To reach that conclusion, his team used death certificates from the California Department of Public Health to analyze more than 1.5 million deaths statewide between 2014 and 2019. They also used data on air temperature and levels of fine particles (PM2.5) . PM2.5 is known to cause health problems.
They found that on days when both heat and air pollution were high, the risk of dying from heart conditions increased by almost 30% and the risk of dying from respiratory problems increased by 38%.
When heat and pollution levels were high, people over the age of 75 suffered the most: they had a 36% increased risk of dying, compared to an 8.5% increased risk for people aged 75 or less.
Deaths were more common among those with heart failure Y pneumonia. Rahman and his team speculated that when heat and air pollution are extreme, people may experience more inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as problems regulating body temperature.
Rahman advises people at risk during high temperatures and air pollution to stay indoors with air conditioning, or if they don’t have air conditioning, go to libraries, shopping malls or community centers. cooling centers.
“What climate change progresses, we’re going to need multilevel interventions,” said the study’s lead author, Erika Garcia, an assistant professor of population sciences and public health at Keck. “We’re going to have to rely on some individual behaviors, but we also need policymakers to make the appropriate policies and provide the appropriate support, so that there can be a continuing effort to save lives.”
Dr. Afif El-Hasan, a volunteer spokesperson for the American Lung Association and a member of the department of pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente San Juan Capistrano in California, called the findings “alarming” but “not surprising.”
“The study speaks clearly to the fact that either one — smoke particles in the air or a very hot day — will put pressure on the body, and probably more than we think,” said El-Hasan, who was not part of of the studio. “But when you add one to the other, it doesn’t just add up, it makes it worse by multiples.”
To withstand these brutal conditions, El-Hasan believes that people must be in top physical shape. that means having high blood pressure and diabetes and respiratory diseases under control.
But for many, that is not enough. People should stay in an air-conditioned environment during these times of extreme heat and pollution, she said.
“Make sure at least one room is air-conditioned,” El-Hasan said. “Make sure that room has an air filter too, so you have an area to be in that will keep you as safe as possible.”
El-Hasan also believes that extreme heat and air pollution are going to get worse. “We can expect more deaths, unfortunately,” El-Hasan said.
The report was recently published online in the American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine.
For more information on air pollution and heat, see the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
SOURCES: Md Mostafijur Rahman, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Erika Garcia, PhD, MPH, assistant professor, population sciences and public health, Keck School of Medicine; Afif El-Hasan, MD., volunteer spokesperson, American Lung Association and Kaiser Permanente, Department of Pediatrics, San Juan Capistrano, California; American journal of respiratory and critical care medicineJune 21, 2022, online