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High Indoor Particulate Matter Linked to Worse Lung Disease

Levels of particulates found to be significantly higher in homes with smokers

FRIDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, who live in homes with high levels of particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter (PM2.5) tend to have poorer health, according to study findings published in the Sept. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Liesl M. Osman, Ph.D., of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Scotland, and colleagues analyzed data from 148 patients with severe COPD in northeast Scotland. Roughly 40 percent of subjects were smokers, and 49% lived in a smoking household. The researchers sampled indoor air from subjects' living rooms with air monitors and administered a respiratory-specific health questionnaire.

The investigators found that the average indoor level of PM2.5 was 18 μg/m3 and levels were significantly higher in households with smokers. In addition, they found that particulate matter levels were associated with a greater symptom burden. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not issued guidelines for indoor levels, but it recommends a maximum daily average outdoor level of 15 μg/m3 annually.

"Interestingly, the impact of PM2.5 levels on respiratory symptoms was particularly great among current smokers, although effects were also seen in non-smokers," writes Mark D. Eisner, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, in an accompanying editorial. "Because [Osman's team] used an objective measure of secondhand smoke exposure, these results provide strong new evidence linking secondhand smoke with worse COPD health status."

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