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Pollution Part of SARS Death Risk

Study found patients in highly polluted areas in China twice as likely to die

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 19, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- High levels of air pollution may increase the risk of dying from SARS.

The bad news comes from a study in the Nov. 19 issue of Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source.

The study found that patients with the severe acute respiratory syndrome who were living in areas with high air pollution were more than twice as likely to die than other people with SARS.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Fudan University School of Public Health analyzed data on SARS death rates and air pollution levels in five different areas of China.

The information, collected between April and May 2003, showed a strong positive correlation between air pollution and SARS deaths, the analysts say.

SARS is believed to have emerged from southern China last fall and infected about 8,000 people in 29 countries, killing more than 800, most of them in Asia, before subsiding earlier this year.

In regions with low air pollution levels, the researchers found that the SARS death rate was 4.08 percent, compared with 7.49 percent in regions with moderate pollution and 8.9 percent in those with high pollution.

The authors suggest that long- or short-term exposure to certain kinds of air pollution may compromise lung function, increasing the risk of death for those who get SARS.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about air pollution and your health.

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, Nov. 19, 2003
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