Pollution in any form is usually considered to be a bad thing. It not only adversely affects the environment around us, but can negatively impact our own health as well. Air pollution, in particular, can have a severe effect on our respiratory system, causing problems to develop in our lungs and airways.
However, a new study shows that these aren’t the only parts of the body to feel the negative impact. Research conducted at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, a country that is plagued by poor air quality in its major cities, finds that our kidneys are also damaged by air pollution.
Researchers have found that people who live in places with lower air quality are at higher risk of developing membranous nephropathy, an immune disorder that affects these vital organs and can lead to kidney failure.
Serious health concerns
The study analyzed over 71,000 patients of all ages who had undergone a kidney biopsy over an 11-year period. The patient records were taken from nearly 1,000 hospitals that spanned across 282 cities in China.
Researchers found that membranous nephropathy increased by 13% per year over the study period, while other kidney conditions remained stable. Additionally, they found that cities with high levels of fine particulate air pollution had the highest rates of this disorder.
“Our primary finding is that the frequency of membranous nephropathy has doubled over the last decade in China. We show that the increase corresponds closely with the regional distribution of particulate air pollution,” said lead researcher Dr. Fan Fan Hou.
While many point out that air quality in the U.S. is higher than in China, the dangers of air pollution are still very real. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released information explaining that air pollution leads to many health problems, including asthma, heart disease, and stroke.