NOV 14, 2017 9:57 AM PST

Air pollution can cause osteoporosis-fractures

You can now add osteoporosis to the long list of negative medical impacts caused by air pollution. New research published in The Lancet Planetary Health reports that exposure to air pollution is associated with osteoporosis-related loss of bone mineral density and risk of bone fractures.

The team of scientists from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health looked at public health in communities that showed high levels of ambient particulate matter (PM 2.5), a component of air pollution. They documented hospital admissions for bone fractures and determined that an increase in PM 2.5 concentrations correlates with more bone fractures in older adult populations.

"Decades of careful research has documented the health risks of air pollution, from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, to cancer, and impaired cognition, and now osteoporosis," says Andrea Baccarelli, senior author of the study. "Among the many benefits of clean air, our research suggests, are improved bone health and a way to prevent bone fractures."

Osteoporosis can be a chilling condition and holds the prize for the most common reason of a fracture in older populations. Those with the disease suffer from brittle and weak bones due to a loss of bone mass as the body ages. This results in roughly 2 million osteoporosis-related bone fractures in the U.S. every year which cost upwards of $20 billion. Osteoporosis-related fractures can greatly impact older people’s lives; some studies report that risk for death increases by as much as 20 percent, and only 40 percent of those who had fractures regain their independence.

Photo: wiseGEEK

The findings from the study are particularly frightening because of the implications that they have for low-income populations. Low-income communities already suffer disproportionately from the effects of environmental waste and pollution. After following 692 middle-aged, low-income adults in the Boston Area Community Health/Bone Survey cohort for eight years, those living in areas with higher levels of PM2.5 and black carbon (a component of air pollution from automotive emissions) showed negative health impacts from the exposure to pollution. The participants had lower levels of parathyroid hormone, a hormone that regulates calcium and bone remodeling, as well as higher reductions in bone mineral density.

According to Science Daily, the study also explains that PM 2.5 additionally causes systemic oxidative damage and inflammation, which itself could accelerate bone loss. It adds that smoking, too, has shown to also increase bone damage.

Sources: Science DailyScience Direct

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 27, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 27, 2019
Canadians Face Increased Risk of Mortality Due to Air Pollution
Air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death in Canada—even when air pollution is below national and international air quality guideli...
DEC 22, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 22, 2019
Australia on fire
Australia is in a national state of emergency as fires ravage cities and rural areas around the country. One map circulating the media from the Government ...
DEC 24, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 24, 2019
Santa's not the Only One that's Making Haste - the Magnetic North Pole's Wandering Accelerates
According to the latest World Magnetic Model (WMM) released by the  NOAA's National Centres for Environmental Information (NCEI), the  Earth&...
DEC 29, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 29, 2019
Zoo in Michigan Sees Birth of Critically Endangered Black Rhino
Staff caring for a pregnant 12-year-old black rhino named Doppsee at Lansing, Michigan’s Potter Park Zoo had a lot to be excited about this past Chri...
FEB 02, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 02, 2020
These Fish Beach Themselves When it Comes Time to Mate
Most fish probably cringe at the idea of beaching themselves on purpose, especially since they can’t breathe out of water. But this is something that...
FEB 12, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 12, 2020
Expect more landslides in High Mountain Asia
A new study from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center highlights the first quantitative study of the link between precipitation and landslides in the High Moun...
Loading Comments...