Air pollution linked to higher rates of kidney disease

Dec. 31, 2020

New research indicates that people may face a higher risk of developing kidney disease if they live in areas with elevated air pollution, according to a press release from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN).

The findings appear in an upcoming issue of JASN.

Exposure to tiny particles of air pollution – called fine particulate matter – is known to increase people’s risk for developing cardiopulmonary diseases, but its effects on kidney health are unclear.

To investigate, a team lead by Luxia Zhang, MD, MPH, and Shaowei Wu, MD, PhD, from Peking University, analyzed survey data from 47,204 adults in China and estimated 2-year air pollution levels at each participant’s residential address from satellite-based information.

Approximately 10.8 percent of participants had chronic kidney disease. Each 10 μg/m3 increase in the concentration of fine particulate matter at a participant’s address was associated with 1.3-times higher odds of having the disease. This link was significantly stronger in urban areas, males, younger participants, and participants without comorbid diseases, according to ASN.

“Although ambient air quality has improved substantially during the past 5 years in China, the national annual particulate matter level in China exceeds the World Health Organization’s guideline,” Zhang said.

The authors noted that the findings provide evidence to policy makers and public health officials for the need for stricter air quality control measures to help protect individuals’ kidney health.

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