Traffic pollution poses health risks for older people and unborn babies according to two separate studies published on Wednesday. Research in the journal The Lancet has found that the dose of air pollution older people received when taking a two hour walk in a congested city street stiffens the arteries and impaired lung function. Walking is the sort of low impact exercise recommended by the NHS for older people to improve their cardiovascular fitness, but the study found that the impact of air pollution negated this. The study tested 119 people aged over sixty, 40 of whom were healthy, 40 with a
medically-stable lung condition, COPD, and 39 with stable ischaemic heart disease. Participants spent two hours walking along traffic-heavy
Oxford Street, which is one of the most polluted spots in the UK, or in Hyde Park. Air pollution levels were monitored before and during their walk,
and each participant’s lung capacity and arterial stiffness was measured before and after. In healthy participants the walk in Hyde Park
led to a 7.5% improvement in the amount of air they could expel in one breath and improvements in blood flow which persisted up to 26 hours
after exercise. But after walking on Oxford Street there were only minor improvements in lung capacity, while the measures of arterial stiffness actually
got worse which the study associated with “greater exposure to black carbon soot and ultrafine particles from diesel exhaust.” The study suggests that short-term exposure to traffic pollution preventsthe cardiorespiratory benefits of physical activity during that time. “When you walk, your airways open up ...
and your blood vessels dilate, or open up... and these effects can last for a few days. When you do this in a polluted place, these effects are much smaller,
so you’ve lost the benefits of exercise,” said Fan Chung, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study.
“When you exercise in polluted areas, you breathe in more, and you get more of the particles and gases getting to your lungs,” he said.
“However, this should not be seen as a barrier to many older people for whom walking is the only exercise they do. We suggest that, where possible,
older adults walk in parks or other green spaces away from busy roads,” he added. A separate study published in The BMJ suggested that pregnant mothers exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to have a baby born at lower birth weights. But professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor
of applied statistics at The Open University, warned that The BMJ study could not definitively conclude that it was the air pollution causing
low birth weight in these cases
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the writer/author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media. Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.