Environmental pollution substantially increases the risk of illness and death, concludes a study carried out by experts from the Autonomous University of Madrid. Particularly, the study describes how elderly are even more vulnerable to the effects of pollution, since they have less capacity to eliminate certain pollutants from the organism and their time of accumulation has been greater.

Fragility is a syndrome diagnosed by the presence of at least three of these criteria: loss of strength, slow walk, fatigue, low physical activity and unintentional weight loss. This is a serious disorder for older people, because those who suffer it are at higher risk of falls, disability and dependence.

According to the scientific literature review, published in Current Environmental Health Reports, only 10 studies were found that evaluated the relationship between exposure to environmental pollutants and development of functional limitations or fragility syndrome in elders.

Most of the work, some done by the same UAM team, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a major health survey conducted in the United States.

These articles showed that both exposure to passive smoking and metals were associated with frailty in senior adults. They also revealed that chronic exposure to lead is associated with limitations of mobility, and chronic exposure to cadmium to decreased strength in older adults.

In addition, one study found an increased risk of frailty in patients hospitalized for myocardial infarction exposed to air pollution by small particles.

This review shows the scarcity of studies on the role of environmental pollution in the appearance of functional impairment associated with age,” says Esther Garcia Esquinas, the first author of the paper. “However, available evidence supports the hypothesis that reducing environmental pollution can decrease not only mortality, but also physical disability in the elderly. This is very relevant because the functional capacity is the ability to do what the older people care about: taking care of themselves and others and participating actively in social life,” adds the researcher.

 

Source: SINC