Breathing in city air pollution long-term is just as likely to bring on lung disease as smoking a daily pack of cigarettes for 29 years, a study has found, according to Metro.
Researchers monitored 7,071 adults over a period of 10 years and found exposure to four main pollutants increased the likelihood of developing various types of lung disease.
Chronic lower respiratory disease – an umbrella term for emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and asthma – is the third leading cause of death globally.
Scientists measured the levels of fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, black carbon and ozone outside the homes of adults, aged 45 to 84, living in six US cities.
CT scans were carried out on participants to track the development of emphysema and lung decline, which showed that long-term exposure was linked to an increased percentage of the former. Ground-level ozone – which is increasing worldwide due to the use of fossil fuels – was found to be the deadliest pollutant and was linked to a decline in lung function.
In areas with with high levels of the gas, they found an increase in emphysema that was around the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 29 years.