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Exposure to air pollution could damage kidney function

Many studies have proven the link between air pollution and cardiovascular disease. As harmful pollutants enter the airways and bloodstream, they can cause artery blockages, a buildup of fatty deposits, heart attacks, and fatal heart failure. However, a new study discovered that air pollution affects not only cardiovascular health, but also kidney function.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), links air pollution levels to kidney failure, kidney disease, and kidney function decline. The findings even show that kidney health can be impaired at relatively low levels of air pollution.

“Even levels below the limit set by the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] were harmful to the kidneys. This suggests that there is no safe level of air pollution,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, Director of Clinical Epidemiology at the VA Saint Louis Health Care System and leader of the study.

For the study data was gathered on 2,482,737 US veterans using databases from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The veteran participants were followed for eight and a half years while the researchers measured kidney health and air pollution levels.

The researchers found a direct correlation between kidney decline and air pollution levels.  

Each year, 44,793 new cases of chronic kidney disease are reported, and according to this new study, could be directly caused by air pollution levels exceeding the EPA’s standards.

This new research shows not only that there is a link between kidney disease and air pollution, but also that even levels below EPA recommendations can have a damaging effect.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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