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New Study Explores Lifestyle Habits That Can Keep Patients with COPD Less Exposed to Particulate Mat
  • 작성일2022-01-12
  • 최종수정일2022-01-12
  • 담당부서연구기획과
  • 연락처043-719-8033

New Study Explores Lifestyle Habits That Can Keep Patients with COPD Less Exposed to Particulate Matter


Scientists find links between simple behaviors and lower levels of particulate matter, paving the way to practical guidelines for vulnerable people


Particulate matter (PM) is a widespread type of air pollutant that negatively affects our health. However, there is not much evidence backing up the current guidelines for reducing one’s exposure to PM. In a recent study, researchers tackled this problem by identifying various lifestyle habits linked to lower indoor PM concentrations, and therefore lower PM exposure. Their findings could help improve the quality of life of people with chronic respiratory diseases.


Certain lifestyle habits, such as checking the air filter regularly and ventilating houses by opening windows, can reduce the indoor concentration of particulate matter and prevent the unnecessary exposure of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder to this air pollutant, researchers from Korea say in a new study.

Certain lifestyle habits, such as checking the air filter regularly and ventilating houses by opening windows, can reduce the indoor concentration of particulate matter and prevent the unnecessary exposure of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder to this air pollutant, researchers from Korea say in a new study.

Photo courtesy: Sei Won Lee from University of Ulsan College of Medicine


Over the past few decades, industrialization and an excessive reliance on fossil fuels have greatly degraded the quality of the air we breathe. Today, we know that several types of air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, deteriorate our overall health and can cause or worsen many diseases. Aside from these specific compounds, particulate matter (PM) constitutes another type of widespread air pollutant; one that can unfortunately affect us during every stage of our lives.


Researchers have demonstrated that high concentrations of PM—the assorted mixture of small solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in air—impair proper lung development and can even lead to respiratory problems in adulthood, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), about 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, are especially dangerous because they can easily travel deep into the lungs.


Of course, since we are still a long shot from reducing the overall air pollution in the world to acceptable levels, the only option we currently have is to protect ourselves from PM2.5 by minimizing our exposure. However, most of the available lifestyle guidelines for avoiding PM2.5 are based on experts’ opinions instead of actual scientific evidence.


To help address this glaring issue, a team of scientists led by Associate Professor Sei Won Lee of University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Korea, recently conducted a study to find links between indoor and outdoor PM2.5 exposure, lifestyle habits, and the exacerbation (“flare-ups”) of symptoms in COPD patients. This work was published in Environmental Research and supported by the Research of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [No. 2019ER671100 and 01].


To address their research question, the team enrolled 104 adults with COPD from four representative areas of Korea, covering metropolitan, industrialized, and rural landscapes. Each participant had to answer a questionnaire about their adherence to 20 daily practices meant to avoid exposure to PM. Other questionnaires covered factors that could affect indoor and outdoor PM concentrations, such as nearby traffic volume and whether their home had a ventilation system or air filter installed. Additionally, each participant had to place a sensor in their home that measured indoor PM2.5 concentration. Finally, instances of COPD flare-ups for each patient were checked monthly. “By analyzing all this information, we aimed to elucidate the type of behaviors or habits that can effectively reduce indoor PM concentration, as well as the impact of PM2.5 concentration on COPD exacerbation,” explains Dr. Lee.


After conducting statistical analyses, the research team identified multiple lifestyle habits that were linked to reduced indoor PM2.5 concentrations. Some examples are checking air filters regularly, ventilating the home by opening windows, operating air filters, and checking air-quality forecasts daily. Moreover, the scientists showed that participants were more prone to severe COPD exacerbation if exposed to higher PM2.5 concentrations for a long period of time.     

Taken together, the findings of this study could serve as the basis for new, evidence-based guidelines for reducing exposure to PM2.5, especially among those who are already more vulnerable to it. “We believe that the quality of life of COPD patients could be improved in the long term if they adhere to the daily practice of those habits that, as we showed, can significantly reduce indoor PM concentration,” concludes Dr. Lee.

Let us hope this study raises awareness of the problem of PM and arms people with simple, yet effective, tools to reduce their PM2.5 exposure, ultimately improving their overall health.



Reference

Authors

Title of original paper

Journal

Hajeong Kim1, Geunjoo Na2, Shinhee Park3, Seung Won Ra4, Sung-Yoon Kang5, Ho Cheol Kim1, Hwan-Cheol Kim2, Sei Won Lee1

The impact of life behavior and environment on particulate matter in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Environmental Research

DOI

Affiliations

10.1016/j.envres.2021.111265

1Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center

2Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, College of Medicine, Inha University

3Department of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Gangneung Asan Hospital

4Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Ulsan University Hospital, University of Ulsan College of Medicine

5Department of Internal Medicine, Gachon University Gil Medical Center


About National Institute of Health in Korea 

The Korea National Institute of Health (KNIH), one of the major operating components of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, leads the nation’s medical research. Over the past seven decades, the KNIH has made unwavering efforts to enhance the public’s health and innovate biomedical research. The KNIH seeks to eradicate diseases and make people healthier. The KNIH establishes a scientific basis and evidence underlying health policy as well as provides national research infrastructures. We also promote public health research. To this end, we make efforts to enrich a health research environment by granting funds to research projects and keeping our resources, data, and facilities more open and accessible to researchers.

Website: http://www.nih.go.kr/NIH_ENG/


About Associate Professor Sei Won Lee

Sei Won Lee is an Associate Professor of Pulmonology and Critical Care Medicine, Asthma Center, and Lung Cancer Center at the Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. He mainly treats chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and asthma. In addition to pharmacologic treatments, he provides non-pharmacologic treatments, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, bronchoscopic lung volume reduction, and bronchial thermoplasty. His major research interests include microbiomes, particulate matter, and pulmonary rehabilitation in chronic respiratory diseases. He completed his residentship and fellowship at Seoul National University Hospital and received an MD PhD degree from Seoul National University, Korea.

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