Living in damp river valleys leads to lung problems

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."

Provided by European Lung Foundation

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Traffic pollution worsens symptoms in asthmatic children

Nov 14, 2008

Traffic pollution, especially in cities, adversely affects respiratory health in children with asthma. A study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Respiratory Research has found that in this vulnerable group, ...

Recommended for you

Patient-centered medical homes reduce costs

25 minutes ago

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH), introduced in 2007, is a model of health care that emphasizes personal relationships, team delivery of care, coordination across specialties and care settings, quality ...

New mums still excessively sleepy after four months

1 hour ago

(Medical Xpress)—New mums are being urged to be cautious about returning to work too quickly, after a QUT study found one in two were still excessively sleepy four months after giving birth.

It's time to address the health of men around the world

2 hours ago

All over the world, men die younger than women and do worse on a host of health indicators, yet policy makers rarely focus on this "men's health gap" or adopt programs aimed at addressing it, according to an international ...

User comments