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Air pollution can weaken bone and cause fractures, as suggested by new research.According to a published article in the Lancet Planetary Health, long-term exposure to air pollution reduces the bone mineral density that often leads to bone fractures and osteoporosis.The study also revealed that prolonged exposure to PM2.5, very small particles, increases the osteoporotic fracture, arterial plaque, and cardiovascular diseases.
How Air Pollution Weakens Bones
Most effects of air pollution are primarily attributed to the heart, blood vessels, and lungs upon inhaling the toxic chemicals in the air.If the person is exposed to the pollutants on a long-term basis, other health conditions may develop like cognitive impairment and cancers.But the latest research found a link between the air pollutants and the bone mineral density.The link is the parathyroid hormone secreted by the parathyroid glands, small endocrine glands found behind the thyroid glands.
Parathyroid hormones or parathyrin is an important hormone for bone remodeling, a process in bone tissue that allows continuous reabsorption and rebuilds the bones.Bone remodeling is an essential part of bone growth and bone repair.In addition to bone remodeling, parathyrin regulates the amount of calcium in the blood to keep the organs that need the mineral from failing.
1.Bones - Parathyrin releases stored calcium in the bones into the bloodstream.The process causes bone destruction and inhibits the formation of new bones.
2.Kidneys - Parathyrin decreases the calcium loss in urine.It also stimulates the production of active vitamin D in the kidneys.
3.Intestines - Parathyrin increases the calcium absorption from food in the intestines through the vitamin D metabolism.
Calcium level in the blood determines the amount of parathyrin your parathyroid glands should produce.Low calcium triggers the release of parathyrin while high calcium prevents the secretion of the hormone.Insufficient parathyrin leads to low calcium in the blood that can cause kidney failure because of low vitamin D.Too much parathyrin leads to excessive calcium in the blood that can cause bone weakness, kidney stones, heart and brain problems, and rarely, cancer.
When pollutants in the air go into the bloodstream, these chemicals can become endocrine disruptors.Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the glands of the endocrine system.These disruptors can cause adverse effects on the developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects influenced by the endocrine system.
- It partly or completely mimics natural hormones in the body, such as parathyrin, with the potential to overstimulate.
- It binds to a receptor within a cell and blocks the original hormone from binding.Some disruptors can block estrogen and androgens from reaching their targets.
- Interferes with the natural hormones and their receptors.This can affect how organs function like the metabolism process in the liver.
This explains how the pollutants in air interfere with the proper function of the parathyroid gland that can cause the very high production of parathyrin, leading to abnormal calcium release from the bones, making them lose their mineral density.
PM2.5: Super Tiny Particles in the Air
In addition to greenhouse gases, carbon emission, and sulfur, the air in major cities where pollution is imminent is now packed with PM2.5.PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter that has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers or about three percent of a strand of human hair.PM2.5 particles are even smaller than PM10 fine particles that usually consist of dust, pollen, and mold.Because of their unbelievably tiny size, PM2.5 particles can enter the nose and mouth without issue then go straight to the lungs.Sometimes PM2.5 particles can directly reach your circulatory system.
PM2.5 particles come from different sources, such as power plants, vehicles, airplanes, burning of residential wood, forest fires, dust storms, and volcanic eruptions.Some of these particles are emitted into the air while others are formed when gases and the particles interact with each other.Sulfuric acid can be formed from the gaseous sulfur dioxide reacting with oxygen and water droplets in the air.
Health Effects of PM2.5 Particles
PM2.5 particles can cause several serious health problems to people with long-term exposure in air polluted places, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
- Development of plaques in the arteries
- Causes vascular inflammation
- Hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attack and brain stroke.
According to the scientists who made the study, for every ten micrograms per cubic meter increase in fine particulate, there is an associated four percent, six percent, and eight percent risk of all-cause, cardiopulmonary, and lung cancer mortality rate respectively.
"Exposure to PM <2.5 microm in diameter (PM[2.5]) over a few hours to weeks can trigger cardiovascular disease-related mortality and nonfatal events; longer-term exposure (eg, a few years) increases the risk for cardiovascular mortality to an even greater extent than exposures over a few days and reduces life expectancy within more highly exposed segments of the population by several months to a few years," as stated by the American Heart Association.
- About 7 million people died because of air pollution in 2012.
- About 40 percent of ischemic heart disease deaths have been associated with outdoor air pollution.
- About 34 percent of brain stroke deaths have been associated with indoor air pollution.