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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2013 Apr;25(1):3-8. doi: 10.1007/s40520-013-0001-5. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Susceptibility of older adults to health effects induced by ambient air pollutants regulated by the European Union and the United States.

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Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, at National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA.


Air pollution is a health concern for the general population, but a few subpopulations (e.g., children, individuals with preexisting cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, etc.) are considered more susceptible to the adverse health effects attributed to air pollution. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that older adults (≥65 years old) are more susceptible to air pollution-induced health effects compared to younger adults due to decreased physiological, metabolic and compensatory processes, and a greater incidence of cardiovascular and respiratory disease. This review examines health effects induced by exposures to common ambient air pollutants regulated by the European Union and the United States. Studies were evaluated that examined the potential susceptibility of older adults to air pollutant-induced health effects. This review focuses on epidemiologic studies that directly compared the health effects of older adults to younger adults and/or the general population in order to compare populations within the same study design. Supplementary information is used from controlled human exposure studies, which examined only older adults, and animal toxicological studies, which utilized animal models of senescence, to provide coherence and biological plausibility for the health effects observed in epidemiologic studies. Overall, evidence from available published studies demonstrates that older adults may be more susceptible to air pollution-induced health effects than younger adults and/or the general population. Clinicians and other health professionals should consider advising older adults on pollution-avoiding behaviors in order to decrease the risk of adverse air pollution-related health effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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