Living in damp river valleys leads to lung problems

September 23, 2011

Amsterdam, The Netherlands: A new study has shown that living in a river valley at low altitude can increase the risk of developing lung problems.

The research will be presented tomorrow (25 September 2011) at the European Respiratory Society's (ERS) Annual Congress in Amsterdam. The ERS Congress will officially open today (24 September 2011).

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the UK aimed to assess the impact of weather, pollution and geography on the symptoms of people with (COPD). This is the first evidence to find a link between increased and lower altitude areas of river valleys.

River valleys are typically damp areas in which cool layers of air get trapped below layers of warmer air. Known as a temperature inversion, this leads to mists and fogs which keep suspended droplets of water in the air, causing humid conditions.

Over the course of a year, daily respiratory symptoms of 52 people with COPD were monitored. The frequency of symptom exacerbation was then compared with the altitude and how close the subjects lived to the river, as well as with selected weather and pollution variables. These variables included humidity, temperature and dew point, which is the temperature below which begin to condense and dew can form.

To measure the impact of these factors, the researchers compared their data with the average number of exacerbations and the usual symptoms experienced by all participants.

The results demonstrated that there were a number of links between the in a river valley and an exacerbation of COPD symptoms. The findings revealed that patients experienced a higher frequency of COPD the lower the altitude they lived at, and symptoms were also exacerbated by and low dew point.

The authors conclude that can be heightened due to the unique climate in a river valley. The suspended droplets of water in the air retain particles and pollutants, leading to adverse symptoms.

Prof Richard Lewis, one of the lead authors from the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Our study is the first to assess the impact that living in a has on the symptoms of COPD patients. As a result of this unique combination of weather and climate, toxic particles and pollutants – which would otherwise be small enough to be inhaled but subsequently exhaled – become attached to droplets and are then retained within the lung causing exacerbation of symptoms."

Explore further: Phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitors have only marginal benefits for people with COPD

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Rio athletes may benefit from 'leaky gut' therapy

June 29, 2016

'Leaky gut' is a condition where the thin mucosal barrier of the gut, which plays a role in absorbing nutrients and preventing large molecules and germs from the gut entering the blood stream, becomes less effective.

Doctors swamped by 'e-medicine' demands

June 29, 2016

(HealthDay)—Doctors say they're drowning in electronic paperwork, feeling burned out and dissatisfied with their jobs thanks to countless hours spent filling out computerized medical forms, researchers report.

E-cigarette vapors could be toxic to mouth, study finds

June 28, 2016

A new UCLA study suggests that e-cigarettes may not be significantly safer than tobacco cigarettes. The research, which was conducted on cultured cells, found that e-cigarettes contain toxic substances and nanoparticles that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.