Exposure to polluted air is like smoking a pack a day, study says

(CNN)Long-term exposure to air pollution, especially ground-level ozone, is like smoking about a pack of cigarettes a day for many years, a new study says, and like smoking, it can can lead to emphysema. The study, published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, is the largest of its kind. It looked at exposure to air pollution — specifically to ground-level ozone, fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxide and black carbon. The study looked at more than 7,000 adults ages 45 to 84 for over a decade in six US metropolitan areas — Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles,  New York City, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Air pollution may have killed 30,000 people in a single year, study says Using a CT scan, researchers were able to see that that exposure to each of the pollutants was associated with the development of emphysema, a lung condition that causes shortness of breath, and is usually associated with cigarette smoking. It’s a debilitating chronic disease that shrinks the amount of oxygen that reaches your bloodstream. Scientists were able to show a decline in lung function with a spirometry, a simple test that measures how much air you can breathe out in one forced… Read full this story

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