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Science Wednesday: OnAir: With Diabetes, Higher Air Pollution Risks

2010 April 7

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

New studies by EPA grantees at Harvard suggest that exposure to air pollution makes the cardiovascular risks associated with diabetes even worse.

It’s well known that diabetes can cause an array of health problems and impose taxing lifestyle changes on those who suffer from it. But of all burdens associated with diabetes, heart disease may be the gravest.

Surfing some stats on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website ,  I discovered that among diabetics, at least 65% of all deaths are attributable to heart disease—compared to just 27% in the population as a whole. What’s more, the American diabetes population is increasing at a very rapid pace (check out the maps I adapted from Maps of Trends in Diabetes.

Because of the heart-health risks to people with diabetes, EPA scientists suspected that air pollution, which also affects the cardiovascular system, may be particularly harmful to individuals with diabetes.

A new study has shown that, indeed, individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to be hospitalized for heart problems than those without diabetes.  New EPA grantee studies show that respiratory and stroke deaths related air pollution are also twice as likely in people with diabetes.

So, why does this matter?

This new information is critical to the diabetes community and health professionals because it suggests that people with diabetes may need to pay extra attention to where they live and the air they breathe.

diabetes_1The implication that people with diabetes could be more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution than the general population is a potentially crucial piece of information for air policymakers.

Under the Clean Air Act , the U.S. EPA is required to set air pollution standards to protect human health. Since there is a wide spectrum of vulnerability to the effects of air pollution, the EPA must design air standards to protect even the most susceptible populations.

As this preliminary research continues, policymakers will have a much better understanding of susceptibility in the growing population of Americans with diabetes.

About the Author: Becky Fried is a science writer with EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research. Her OnAir posts are a regular “Science Wednesday” feature.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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21 Responses leave one →
  1. detaildevil permalink
    April 7, 2010

    Good article. A couple of additional points. The rate of diabetes is rapidly increasing in the US. Between 1980 and 2007, the number of US diabetics increased from 5.6 to 17.4 million.

    The National Academy of Sciences has produced a report on the “Hidden Costs of Energy.” The report takes a stab at estimating the damage done by energy production and use, including health effects.

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    April 7, 2010

    Becky, your post, now, is more detail, not substantially. For save the Earth, not only in US, need policies approach….

  3. armansyahardanis permalink
    April 7, 2010

    Becky, your post, now, is too detail. Not substantially. For save the Earth, not only in US, need policies approach. Good luck, Becky …

  4. Al Bannet permalink
    April 8, 2010

    Chilldren who grew up psychologically addicted to TV advertising are now suffering from the chronic diseases the treatment of which is making the medical professions and pharmaceutical corporations rich. That is why there was such savage opposition to the President Obama’s recent reform legislation, minimal though it is. So, as before, individuals are left with the necessity of thinking and acting logically to defend themselves with a healthy diet minus any and all tasty but toxic foods. Consult the nearest health food store to see what is available, for example, flax seed oil for a healthy heart.

  5. make money online permalink
    April 8, 2010

    Good article

  6. David Golobay permalink
    April 8, 2010

    Indoor air pollution is such a very large issue that continues to worsen as we build homes and buildings tighter. There are growing concerns about how we balance energy efficiency and clean air. Indoor air quality should be at the base of all of our minds.

    I run a heating and air conditioning business and we install a great deal of indoor air quality products that actually help with these things.

    As a source of information I have put together a lot of the current research on the topic of indoor air pollution on our blog. These are all links to documents that have been recently generated by government organizations like the EPA, American Heart and Lung Association, DOE, etc… Take a look at the research and learn more about how you can beat pollution at its own game!

    David Golobay

  7. Cathy permalink
    April 8, 2010

    This is especially frightening when you consider the incidence of diabetes in Georgia, the number of coal fired power plants in GA, and the fact that the state has issued permits to build 2 more coal-fired plants with another in the planning phase. EPA needs to enact stricter permitting requirements to protect us !

  8. Blake Barker permalink
    May 25, 2010

    EPA has been doing more and more over the decade to make sure the health of the people in America is not being affected by Air Pollution. Having two people in my family with diabetes is an issue and now to know they are at a greater risk of getting sick or having heart problems due to air pollution is a big deal!

  9. Tianshi permalink
    June 11, 2010

    Good information.It shouldn’t be only for the net,but also for the people out there,communities because this article is very crucial because of the state of our environment today

  10. Gioca alla Roulette permalink
    June 18, 2010

    This is the largest study ever conducted of the effect of fine particle air pollution and heart and lung disease, not only in the country but in the world.thanks for your blog.

  11. manjit permalink
    September 20, 2010

    Only want to say your site is as Great. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can see the love in this field. Well with your permission allow me to keep up to date with succeeding post. Thanks a million and please keep up the accomplished work.

  12. Jason K permalink
    September 20, 2010

    Startling figures and facts! EPA does their best, however, it truly needs to be a daily state of mind on all our parts.

  13. jawad permalink
    November 2, 2010

    i say just thanks for this

  14. Mychael J permalink
    November 20, 2010

    Scary!

  15. Thiruvelan permalink
    December 4, 2010

    Every diabetics after gone through this article surely like to choose a clean air place for living. Yes clean air reduces the risk factor of diabetes complication, in particular cardiovascular diseases.

  16. Ken permalink
    December 29, 2010

    Interesting that air pollution has an impact. Thinking further, I know exercise and proper diet can have a very positive impact on type 2 diabetes. I can see how air pollution can have a negative impact on exercise. Again, interesting, thanks for the report.

    Ken

  17. Katlego permalink
    March 28, 2011

    Interesting that air pollution has an impact. Thinking further, I know exercise and proper diet can have a very positive impact on type 2 diabetes. I can see how air pollution can have a negative impact on exercise.

  18. MoviesForFree permalink
    April 28, 2011

    Great Blog!! Wish I had the ability to make one as good as this!! I will be following you on your updates!!

  19. kirk forney permalink
    May 27, 2011

    Great article very insightful thanks for the read.

  20. success internet system permalink
    September 12, 2011

    I agree with the fact that the air we breathe in have a great impact on those people unwell. Clean air environment is essential for the patient optimal health and growth!

  21. May 28, 2012

    Yes I agree with that heart-health risks to people with diabetes, EPA scientists suspected that air pollution, which also affects the cardiovascular system, may be particularly harmful to individuals with diabetes. I think we should also support to PALS because PALS are working for Facts about air pollution

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