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ELF – Link between household air pollution and lung infections

The European Lung Foundation (ELF) highlights a study from scientists in the UK who are researching why people that are exposed to household air pollution are at an increased risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia and TB.

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, focused on how immune cells found in the airways respond to the pollution. Samples were taken from healthy volunteers in Malawi, a country where people are exposed to high levels of household air pollution due to the fuels they use to cook, light and heat their homes.

The researchers who measured the smoke content in each person’s immune cells and looked at this alongside the way they carried out their role of defending the body against germs, found that the cells containing higher levels of smoke tended to have a weaker immune response, which could explain why people exposed to pollution are more likely to get lung infections.

As Dr. Jamie Rylance, one of the lead researchers, highlights, this study is important as household air pollution is the third most important risk factor for ill-health worldwide. Vulnerable groups such as women and children in low income countries are most likely to be affected.

The scientists are now carrying out further laboratory research to support this finding.

Originally posted on 9 June 2015

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