Air pollution may cause people to have year-round runny noses and chronic sinus problems, warn scientists.
Exposure to airborne particulate matter has been linked to aggravation of respiratory symptoms, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
Although human population studies have linked air pollution to chronic inflammation of nasal and sinus tissues, direct biological and molecular evidence for cause and effect has been scant.
Researchers reported that experiments in mice continually exposed to dirty air have revealed that direct biological effect.
Researchers demonstrated the destructive effects of chronic airborne particulate matter exposure on the sinonasal airway barrier disruption and non-allergic eosinophilic inflammation in mice.
Evidence of the destructive effects of chronic airborne particulate matter on sinonasal health in vivo including pro-inflammatory cytokine release and macrophage and neutrophil inflammatory cell accumulation was observed.
“In places like New Delhi, Cairo or Beijing, where people heat their houses with wood-burning stoves and factories release pollutants into the air, our study suggests people are at higher risk of developing chronic sinus problems,” said Murray Ramanathan, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.
“We’ve identified a lot of evidence that breathing in dirty air directly causes a breakdown in the integrity of the sinus and nasal air passages in mice,” said Ramanathan. “Keeping this barrier intact is essential for protecting the cells in the tissues from irritation or infection from other sources, including pollen or germs,” he said.
The new findings have broad implications for the health and well-being of people who live in large cities and industrial areas with polluted air, particularly in the developing world.
The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.