Even a 10 microgram per cubic metre rise in particulate matter (PM 10) level can increase breathlessness and reduce lung function among diabetic persons. The results of the Welcome Trust Genetic study are a startling indicator of how diabetic patients are at great risk of impaired lung function due to air pollution in Pune. This is the first time researchers aimed at investigating the long-term pulmonary effects of air pollution in Pune where the typical concentrations of PM 10 in the ambient air is above 100 µg/m3. The study “Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Among Diabetic and Non-diabetics: Insulin Resistance in Diabetic Patients”, is set to be published soon in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

According to researchers, there is scientific evidence now that the increasing PM 10 levels have led to poor glucose control and insulin resistance among diabetics. “Our analysis showed that exposure to higher PM 10 concentration was related with increased risk of chronic cough, dyspnea (breathlessness) and impaired lung function. The prevalence of wheezing, allergy symptom, chest tightness, asthma and COPD were significantly higher among diabetic subject than non-diabetics,” Dr Sundeep Salvi, director, Chest Research Foundation, and one of the co-authors of the WellGen Study that was supported by the Wellcome Trust (London), said. Researchers Morteza Khafaie from Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Iran, worked in coordination with Dr C S Yajnik, director of the Diabetes Research Unit at KEM hospital, Dr Ajay Ojha from Technogreen Environmental Solutions and Salvi to examine the effect of exposure to ambient PM 10 on chronic symptoms and the pulmonary function tests in diabetic and non-diabetic persons.

Diabetics may be more vulnerable to the harmful effects of ambient air pollutants than healthy individuals. But the risk factors that lead to susceptibility to air pollution in diabetics have not yet been identified, Yajnik explained, adding that 400 Type 2 diabetic and 465 non-diabetic persons were investigated for chronic respiratory symptoms at KEM hospital. Air pollutants and meteorological data were provided by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the Indian Meteorological Department.

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