Spikes in breathing problem-related admissions to hospitals and visits to GPs in Tayside have been clearly linked to air pollution in a research project conducted at Dundee University.
Researchers studied nearly 15 years of data for air pollution levels in Dundee, Perth and the surrounding area and matched it to the medical records of 450 patients who suffer from bronchiectasis, a long-term chronic condition similar to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which can cause a persistent cough and breathlessness as well as frequent chest infections.
Professor James Chalmers, GSK/British Lung Foundation Professor of Respiratory Research in the School of Medicine at Dundee, said: “We found that on days when air pollution spiked, there was a large increase in admissions to Ninewells Hospital, Perth Royal Infirmary and visits to GPs with breathing problems, known as exacerbations.
“This is the first study in Scotland where we been able to look in detail at the relationship between medical and air pollution data and evidence from other countries has also suggested similar links.
“There is every reason to believe these results would be replicated elsewhere.”
He said sophisticated medical record-keeping in Tayside provided key data.