Quantcast
Health

Study Links Osteoporosis to Air Pollution

Exposure to air pollution is known to cause a vast array of respiratory health problems, but in a new study, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health have determined that air pollution can also weaken bones.

The paper, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, is the first to document high rates of hospital admissions for bone fractures in communities with elevated levels of ambient particulate matter (PM2.5).


Unfortunately, as a press release for the study noted, risk of bone fracture admissions is greatest in low-income communities. In the U.S., air pollution is especially high in poorer communities.

For the study, researchers analyzed osteoporosis-related fracture hospital admissions among 9.2 million people between 2003 and 2010 and found that even a small increase in PM2.5 concentrations would lead to an increase in bone fractures in older adults.

A further eight-year followup of 692 middle-aged, low-income adults found that participants living in areas with higher levels of PM2.5 and black carbon (the soot that comes from gas and diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuel sources) had lower levels of parathyroid hormone (a key calcium and bone-related hormone) as well as greater decreases in bone mineral density than those exposed to lower levels of the two pollutants.

The study's authors pointed out that the World Health Organization considers osteoporosis the second leading cause of disability globally after cardiovascular disease.

The researchers noted that particulate matter can cause systemic oxidative damage and inflammation, which could accelerate bone loss and increase risk of bone fractures in older individuals. Just think of smoking cigarettes as an example. Smoking contains several particulate matter components and has been identified as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone fracture.

“Decades of careful research has documented the health risks of air pollution, from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, to cancer, and impaired cognition, and now osteoporosis," said Andrea Baccarelli, MD, Ph.D., chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School and the study's senior author.

Baccarelli said that the best way to prevent air-pollution-related diseases is through policies to improve air quality.

"Among the many benefits of clean air, our research suggests, are improved bone health and a way to prevent bone fractures," he said.

Since genetic factors are not a major determinant of osteoporosis, the authors suggested that research on the disease should be broadened to examine the impact of environmental factors.

In recent weeks, the Indian capital of New Delhi has been blanketed by a thick cloud of smog. As EcoWatch reported, the air in New Deli has remained "hazardous" for days. Illegal crop burning, vehicle emissions, industrial pollution and dust from sprawling construction sites have contributed to the pollution emergency. By 11 am on Friday, the U.S. embassy air quality data for PM 2.5 showed levels had reached 550, while the safe limit is 50, according to U.S. embassy standards.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Judge Halts Seismic Testing Permits During Shutdown

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Pxhere

DiCaprio-Funded Study: Staying Below 1.5ºC is Totally Possible

Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.

Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Martin Luther King Jr. at steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

MLK Would Have Been an Environmental Leader, Too

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and actions continue to resonate on the 90th anniversary of his birth.

As the country honors the life and legacy of the iconic civil rights leader today, we are reminded that the social justice and the climate movements are deeply connected.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A great tit family and nest. Bak GiSeok / 500px / Getty Images

Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts

By Marlene Cimons

Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.

The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Saving the World’s Largest Tropical Wetland

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

35,000 Protestors in Berlin Call for Agricultural Revolution

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A Massachusetts road coated with snow and ice following the winter storm which prompted Trump to mock climate change. Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Trump Once Again Confuses Weather and Climate in Response to Deadly Winter Storm

President Donald Trump has once again contradicted the findings of the U.S. government when it comes to the threat posed by climate change. Days after a Department of Defense report outlined how climate-related events like wildfires and flooding put U.S. military installations at risk, Trump took to Twitter to mock the idea that the world could be getting warmer, Time reported.

Trump's tweet came in response to a massive winter storm that blanketed the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The fire that erupted after a pipeline explosion in Mexico Friday. FRANCISCO VILLEDA / AFP / Getty Images

85 Dead in Mexican Pipeline Explosion

A dramatic pipeline explosion in central Mexico Friday has killed at least 85 people, Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer Valera said Sunday night, The Associated Press reported.

The explosion occurred in a field in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan as people rushed to gather fuel from the pipeline, which had been ruptured by suspected thieves. Many were covered in oil before a fireball shot into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!