Lead researcher Dr Al-Aly noted: "This suggests that there is no safe level of air pollution".
When we breathe, tiny particles present in the dirty air pass through our lungs and enter our bloodstream to finally reach kidneys.
The press release provides more: "To investigate, a team led by Ziyad Al-Aly, MD (Director of Clinical Epidemiology at the VA Saint Louis Health Care System) linked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs databases to examine information on 2,482,737 USA veterans who were followed for a median of 8.5 years".
The researchers found a linear relationship between air pollution levels and risk of experiencing kidney function decline and of developing kidney disease or kidney failure.
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Kidneys - our body's main filters - sift these particles out of the blood.
Each year 44,793 new cases of kidney disease and 2,438 cases of kidney failure in the U.S. could be attributed to excessive levels of air pollution, the researchers concluded. "However, once we analysed the data, the link between air pollution and the development of kidney disease was clear".
Even low levels of particulate pollution may be harmful to the kidneys, said the scientists. And those adverse effects increase as pollution levels increase. Air pollution levels were also assessed using space-borne sensors from NASA satellites. "However, no level is completely safe".
Study results placed Southern California and large regions in the South, Midwest and Northeast at the greatest risk for kidney decline attributed to air pollution. "This suggests further study is needed for a broader assessment of the global burden of kidney disease attributable to air pollution".
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