November 15th, 2021

We have long known that particulate matter 2.5 is a problem for asthmatic persons. PM 2.5 stands for 2.5 micron sized particles that enter the respiratory tract and settle deep in our lungs smallest tubes. These chemicals cause local inflammation and can lead to further issues over time especially in individuals with lung diseases like COPD or asthma.

The mechanisms are being figured out but appear to be activation of innate and local immune cascades that inflame local cells and tissues causing a cascade of inflammation that we see as lung disease flairs. Those persons with lung diseases act as a canary in the coal mine for the rest of us with regards to health risk from pollution much like a diabetic is a window into refined carbohydrate induced insulin resistance and inflammation for all of us.

"Air pollution in the form of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has been linked to adverse respiratory outcomes in children. However, the magnitude of this association in South Asia and sources of PM2.5 that drive adverse health effects are largely unknown. This study evaluates associations between short-term variation in ambient PM2.5 and incidence of pneumonia and upper respiratory infections among children in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We also perform an exploratory analysis of the PM2.5 source composition that is most strongly associated with health endpoints. We leveraged data from health surveillance of children less than five years of age between 2005 and 2014 in Kamalapur, Bangladesh, including daily physician-confirmed diagnoses of pneumonia and upper respiratory infection.
Twice-weekly source-apportioned ambient PM2.5 measurements were obtained for the same period. Total PM2.5 mass was associated with a modest increase in incidence of pneumonia, with a peak effect size two days after exposure. We did not identify a significant association between PM2.5 and upper respiratory infection. Stratified and matching analyses suggested this association was stronger among days when ambient PM2.5 had a higher mass percent associated with brick kiln and fugitive lead emissions.: This study suggests that elevated ambient PM2.5 contributes to increased incidence of child pneumonia in urban Dhaka, and that this relationship varies among days with different source composition of PM2.5." (Sherris et. al. 2021)

The to do:

1) As oxidative stress and innate immune activation are main pathogenic mechanisms of PM2.5, consuming nutritious foods like omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil, colorful antioxidant fruits and vegetables can mitigate some of the damage
2) Wear a mask on poor air quality days when outside
3) Use high quality indoor HEPA filters and devices to clean the local air
4) Make sure to use your preventative medicines as directed if you have a lung or other high risk diseases
5) Consider supplements to mitigate some of the oxidant damage as per your provider of care. I think of OPC or oligomeric proanthocyanidins here as well as Vitamins A, E and C. However, nothing will ever beat out the synergies of high quality vegetables and fruits. Dr. Weil's site for more information.

Dr. M

Sherris Environmental Pollution
Xing J of Thoracic Disease
Xu J of Immunology