Great to spend the day over in Bangor last week at the BLF study day. Lots of interesting speakers, I'm still mulling over all of the interesting things that were discussed and learned. Favourite of the day the for me was the fascinating air pollution and lung conditions by Professor Paul Lewis. He spoke about the recent study that looked at air pollution rates for NO2 and particulates, PM10 and PM2.5 and there affect on lung conditions. Interestingly there was no significant increase in hospital admission rates relating to high PM2.5 however there was a correlation between high levels of PM10 exposure that peaked at between 2-3-4 days after exposure, which fitted with previous research into exacerbation risk from exposure to pollutants.
In the questions, it was asked whether wearing a mask would help? Good question as I had been wondering the same thing myself, but he felt that it would probably not be of huge benefit as the particulates are small enough to get through the masks. So what should we be telling our patients? One message was to be aware of air pollution and make an informed decision whether or not to go out that day if it is very bad. To be aware that exposure could make them feel worse not on the day of exposure but further down the line, 2-3-4 days later in the case of particulates. NO2 makes you more at risk on the day of exposure but that risk reduces thereafter.
The other thing to consider is the accuracy of the air quality data that we receive as not all areas have the very expensive testing equipment and therefore it is disparate monitoring shown as generalised data when on the air quality map. So may not be a true reflection of the air quality where you live, however as a guide and for updates see the link below.
Details of where the testing sites are can be found on the DEFRA website also so do check it out if you are concerned to see if there is one near you.
As particulate pollution is caused by both petrol and diesel vehicles I'm keen to see how the problem will be addressed in the future to prevent the serious health complications that can arise from exposure to them.