High levels of fine dust can cause various hazardous effects that pull down the quality of life severely, according to recent reports from Konkuk University Medical Center (KUMC) and Kangwon National University Hospital (KNUH).
The KUMC 건국대병원 research, led by Professor Shin Jin-young 신진영 from the department of family medicine, proved that fine dust could cause depression.
The research analyzed the effect of air pollution -- fine dust, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide -- on 124,205 residents, who had lived in the same area for more than five years.
The result showed that an increase in fine dust levels could cause the degree of depression to increase by 40 percent and subjective stress by 20 percent. It also led to the quality of life deteriorating by 38 percent, while increasing suicide rates by 24 percent.
Also, men were more likely to be affected by air pollution than women. Higher concentration of fine dust increased the risk of mental health, including depression and stress, by 12 percent in men, while the rate for women rose 9 percent.
The results were similar to the increase in nitrogen dioxide or carbon monoxide levels.
The KNHU 강원대학교병원 research led by Hong Suk-ho 홍석호, a team manager at the KNUH Environment Health Center 환경보건센터, proved that cadmium, a substance mainly found in fine dust and cigarettes, could cause respiratory diseases.
Hong’s team analyzed gene mutations that occurred in lung epithelial cell exposed to cadmium and found specific signaling pathway (CEBP-DDIT3 signaling) associated with inducing apoptosis among the cells. The team also found that cadmium can cause inflammation in the lung epithelial cells.
“It is already well known that the effects of fine dust on human health are severe,” said Hong. “However, there has been a lack of research to prove a clear relationship or its pathogenesis.”
The hospital will make efforts to establish basic information on the prevention and management of respiratory diseases caused by fine dust, Hong added.
The results of the study were published in a recent online edition of "Experimental Molecular Medicine."
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