Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 189–201

Air pollution and health: emerging information on susceptible populations

  • Marie S. O’Neill
  • Carrie V. Breton
  • Robert B. Devlin
  • Mark J. Utell
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11869-011-0150-7

Cite this article as:
O’Neill, M.S., Breton, C.V., Devlin, R.B. et al. Air Qual Atmos Health (2012) 5: 189. doi:10.1007/s11869-011-0150-7

Abstract

Outdoor air pollution poses risks to human health in communities around the world, and research on populations who are most susceptible continues to reveal new insights. Human susceptibility to adverse health effects from exposure to air pollution can be related to underlying disease; demographic or anthropometric characteristics; genetic profile; race and ethnicity; lifestyle, behaviors, and socioeconomic position; and location of residence or daily activities. In health research, an individual or group may have an enhanced responsiveness to a given, identical level of pollution exposure compared to those who are less susceptible. Or, people in these different groups may experience varying levels of exposure (for example, a theoretically homogeneous population whose members differ only by proximity to a road). Often the information available for health research may relate to both exposure and enhanced response to a given dose of pollution. This paper discusses the general direction of research on susceptibility to air pollution, with a general though not an exclusive focus on particulate matter, with specific examples of research on susceptibility related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and genetic and epigenetic features. We conclude by commenting how emerging knowledge of susceptibility can inform policy for controlling pollution sources and exposures to yield maximal health benefit and discuss two areas of emerging interest: studying air pollution and its connection to perinatal health, as well as land use and urban infrastructure design.

Keywords

Outdoor air Particulate matter Susceptible populations Genetics Diabetes 

Abbreviations

ANS

Autonomic nervous system

BC

Black carbon

CAPS

Concentrated ambient air particles

COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

CVD

Cardiovascular

EC

Elemental carbon

EPHX1

Microsomal epoxide hydrolase

HMOX1

Heme oxygenase

HRV

Heart rate variability

MI

Myocardial infarction

NMMAPS

National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study

PM

Particulate matter

UFPs

Ultrafine particles

WHO

World Health Organization

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie S. O’Neill
    • 1
  • Carrie V. Breton
    • 2
  • Robert B. Devlin
    • 3
  • Mark J. Utell
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Clinical Research Branch, Environmental Public Health DivisionU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA
  5. 5.Department of Environmental MedicineUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA

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