External Environmental Pollution as a Risk Factor for Asthma

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CLINICAL REVIEWS IN ALLERGY & IMMUNOLOGY, v.62, n.1, Special Issue, p.72-89, 2022
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Air pollution is a worrisome risk factor for global morbidity and mortality and plays a special role in many respiratory conditions. It contributes to around 8 million deaths/year, with outdoor exposure being responsible for more than 4.2 million deaths throughout the world, while more than 3.8 million die from situations related to indoor pollution. Pollutant agents induce several respiratory symptoms. In addition, there is a clear interference in numerous asthma outcomes, such as incidence, prevalence, hospital admission, visits to emergency departments, mortality, and asthma attacks, among others. The particulate matter group of pollutants includes coarse particles/PM10, fine particles/PM2.5, and ultrafine particles/PM0.1. The gaseous components include ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. The timing, load, and route of allergen exposure are other items affecting allergic disease phenotypes. The complex interaction between pollutant exposures and human host factors has an implication in the development and rise of asthma as a public health problem. However, there are hiatuses in the understanding of the pathways in this disease. The routes through which pollutants induce asthma are multiple, and include the epigenetic changes that occur in the respiratory tract microbiome, oxidative stress, and immune dysregulation. In addition, the expansion of the modern Westernized lifestyle, which is characterized by intense urbanization and more time spent indoors, resulted in greater exposure to polluted air. Another point to consider is the different role of the environment according to age groups. Children growing up in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods suffer more important negative health impacts. This narrative review highlights the principal polluting agents, their sources of emission, epidemiological findings, and mechanistic evidence that links environmental exposures to asthma.
Air pollution, Particulate matter, Asthma
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