Health effects of air pollution.

Bernstein JA, Alexis N, Barnes C, Bernstein IL, Bernstein JA, Nel A, Peden D, Diaz-Sanchez D, Tarlo SM, Williams PB.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Nov;114(5):1116-23.

ABSTRACT: The general public, especially patients with upper or lower respiratory symptoms, is aware from media reports that adverse respiratory effects can occur from air pollution. It is important for the allergist to have a current knowledge of the potential health effects of air pollution and how they might affect their patients to advise them accordingly. Specifically, the allergist-clinical immunologist should be keenly aware that both gaseous and particulate outdoor pollutants might aggravate or enhance the underlying pathophysiology of both the upper and lower airways. Epidemiologic and laboratory exposure research studies investigating the health effects of outdoor air pollution each have advantages and disadvantages. Epidemiologic studies can show statistical associations between levels of individual or combined air pollutants and outcomes, such as rates of asthma, emergency visits for asthma, or hospital admissions, but cannot prove a causative role. Human exposure studies, animal models, and tissue or cellular studies provide further information on mechanisms of response but also have inherent limitations. The aim of this rostrum is to review the relevant publications that provide the appropriate context for assessing the risks of air pollution relative to other more modifiable environmental factors in patients with allergic airways disease.

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