More than a third of all people who attended air events in 2018 are expected to experience respiratory symptoms including cough, wheeze and other respiratory symptoms, according to a study from researchers at the University of Sydney.
Key points:People who attend air events are more likely to be at increased risk of respiratory illnessesThreatened people are more than three times more likely than the general population to experience symptomsThe study found people who attend events are at increased vulnerability to respiratory illnessesThe study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, is the first to investigate the role air pollution plays in people’s exposure to toxic air pollutants.
Researchers from the University’s School of Public and International Health studied air pollution in more than 30 countries in 2019 and found people were more likely in 2018 to have experienced respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheeing.
“We looked at all people aged 10 years and over who were attending air events, whether they were attending an event or not,” Professor Michael Pinder, lead author of the study and a research fellow at the Centre for Air Quality at the NSW Department of Health, said.
“People who attended an air event were almost four times more at increased susceptibility to respiratory illness than the population of the country, and the average annual risk of these respiratory illnesses is three times higher for those who attend an air pollution event.”
Professor Pinder said the increased risk was because people who went to air events were more exposed to toxic pollutants.
“What we saw was that people who had been exposed to air pollution were more susceptible to experiencing respiratory symptoms,” he said.
Dr John Farrar, a professor of epidemiology at the Alfred P. Sloan Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York, said the study confirmed that air pollution had a significant impact on people’s health.
“It’s not a question of the health of people at large, it’s a question about people who are in close proximity to people who have been exposed, and it’s an area of concern,” he told ABC News.
“The more people that live in areas where air pollution is present, the more people who develop asthma.”
Dr Farras research group has previously shown that people in Sydney’s CBD and in other areas of Sydney are exposed to the highest concentrations of air pollution and are more vulnerable to asthma.
He said that, as a result, the study highlighted the importance of public health measures.
“Our research shows that air quality in Sydney and surrounding areas is a key contributor to the risk of asthma, which has been linked to increased rates of asthma,” he explained.
“There are air quality measures that can help to reduce exposure to air pollutants, and those include measures to reduce congestion and pollution, and air quality monitors that can be installed throughout the city to monitor air quality.”
Professor Farrars research group also found that there was a higher risk of experiencing respiratory illnesses among people who were at higher risk to develop asthma.
The study’s findings have been published in an edition of the Journal of the Australian Medical Association.