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Elderly at risk from fine particle air pollution

10th March 2006

Elderly people are at high risk of contracting cardiovascular and respiratory diseases from air pollution, claims a new report.

A US study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that short term exposure to fine particle air pollution greatly heightens the potential for respiratory problems in the over 65s.

The four-year study of 11.5 million Medicare patients found that exposure to such pollution in the forms of power plant and vehicle emissions brought on conditions such as respiratory infection, heart and vascular disease and heart failure.

"These findings provide compelling evidence that fine particle concentrations well below the national standard are harmful to the cardiovascular and respiratory health of our elderly citizens," said the director of National Institutes of Health, David Schwartz.

"We must focus our efforts on understanding why these particles are harmful, and how these effects can be prevented," he added.

Existing conditions such as Asthma and Bronchitis are also believed to be exacerbated by these forms of air pollution.