Particulate matter contamination: Tiny little sick people with high health risk

Particulate matter contamination: Tiny little sick people with high health risk

It has long been known that air pollution poses a major health risk. Studies have shown that there is an increased risk of heart attack due to fine dust. The risk of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and other diseases, such as the lungs, is also increased. It is no longer just Asian metropolises where there is a significant health risk for the population.

Particulate matter alarm in large German city
With heavy air pollution and the resulting health hazards, many first think of Chinese megacities or other major cities in Asia. But even in our latitudes and under the local climatic conditions, the situation is often dramatic. In the past year, Austrian researchers calculated Europe's cities with the greatest fine dust pollution in the future. One of them is Stuttgart. A fine dust alarm was triggered there recently. Commuters were asked to leave their car at best. In many places, high levels of fine dust are also measured in winter. The health risk is omnipresent.

35,000 deaths from air pollution each year
Around 35,000 Germans die each year from the effects of air pollution, an international team of researchers recently reported in the journal "Nature". The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are approximately seven million deaths worldwide each year. According to experts, the most harmful part is particulate matter, as the "Hamburger Abendblatt" reports in a recent article. The fine particles are usually only about a ten-thousandth of a millimeter (0.1 micrometer) in size and cannot be seen with the naked eye. But these ultra-fine pieces are particularly dangerous.

Poorly filtered diesel exhaust
The tiny particles normally remain invisible in the air, but in certain weather conditions they form a kind of mist. "In Germany, industrial exhaust gases from farms and power plants mostly cause particulate matter," explained Dr. Andreas Meyer, head of the lung cancer center of the Mariahilf clinics in Mönchengladbach according to the "Hamburger Abendblatt". In addition to the abrasion of tires, brakes or the road surface, poorly filtered diesel exhaust gases are the problem on busy roads. "Smoking indoors and passive smoking are the number one hazard sources," says Meyer.

Tiny particles enter the bloodstream
Particulate matter is also dangerous because the tiny particles enter the bloodstream through the smallest lung vessels. At less than 0.1 microns, they are so fine that they are no longer caught by the hairs of the nose. "The increasing fine dust pollution in the environment leads to health problems," said Dr. Kaid Darwiche, internist and pneumologist at the West German Lung Center Ruhrlandklinik. "The combination of the particles with carcinogenic substances is also risky," added Andreas Meyer, "in Germany there is no limit value for fine dust, such as for ozone or sulfur dioxide."

Respiratory infections and cardiovascular diseases
The doctor Meyer explained: "We pulmonologists find that people with respiratory infections in the clinics report a high level of particulate matter." And his colleague Darwiche said: "The particles can cause inflammation in the bronchi, which can also develop other organs. ”In this context, chronic bronchitis is one of the most common diseases. Because the particles can get into the heart via the bloodstream, severe coronary artery calcifications, heart muscle inflammation or heart attacks are also possible consequences. Even small amounts of fine dust can be dangerous. Studies also show that.

Dr. Dennis Wolf from the Clinic for Cardiology and Angiology at the University Heart Center Freiburg-Bad Krozingen explained in the article in the newspaper: "We were able to show in mice that even a single exposure to fine dust leads to larger and more inflammatory heart attacks." The doctor became a doctor According to the report, awarded for its research by the European Cardiology Society.

Children and sick people particularly at risk
Some groups of people are particularly at risk. "At fine dust concentrations that healthy adults do not yet notice, children can develop acute bronchial problems," said Darwiche. "And the situation of people with bronchial problems or asthmatics can worsen significantly." According to experts, to protect yourself, you can go to the sea or in the mountains and of course stop smoking. According to experts, respiratory masks usually help little or not at all. Basically, more would have to be done socially to contain air pollution.

Extend narrowed bronchial tubes by inhalation
If there are diseases as a result of air pollution, cardiac patients are advised to discuss an individual therapy strategy with the cardiologist. And people with respiratory diseases can be helped by lung doctors in a first step through inhalations to expand narrowed bronchial tubes. “With acute worsening of chronic bronchitis (COPD), cortisone sometimes has to be used. And if the mucous membranes no longer perform their defense function, antibiotics may be necessary, ”explained Meyer. According to Darwiche, pulmonary emphysema is also a possible consequence of fine dust pollution. “This means that patients can no longer exhale properly. Your lungs, which are bloated as a result, can be “ventilated” with the help of new therapy methods - for example through the use of targeted valves. ”At the same time, the doctor advises you to build muscle through strength training in order to counteract the muscle breakdown. (Ad)

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