Air Pollution and Your Health: Are We Risking Our Lives for the Big City?

Caitlin Register, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), air pollution presents a negative effect on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and stroke. [1] The United States National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as established by Environmental Protection Agency, recommends ozone concentrations below 70 parts per billion (ppb) and annual average particles with a mass median aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 μg (PM2.5) concentrations less than 12.0 μg/m3 for “sensitive” populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. For public welfare protection, PM2.5 concentrations less than 15.0 μg/m3 are recommended. [2] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), outdoor air pollution is estimated worldwide to cause about 8% of lung cancer deaths, 5% of cardiopulmonary deaths, and 3% of deaths from respiratory infections. [3] It is suggested that negative impacts on respiratory and cardiovascular health can follow both short and long-term exposures to particulate matter air pollution, and long-term exposure may be linked to atherosclerosis and childhood respiratory disease. With regard to these factors and public health, increased mortality may be the ultimate effect of air pollution. [4]

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The Pro-oxidative Risks of a Red Meat Diet

Sahil A. Desai, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

Consuming red meat has been shown to cause a higher risk of premature death [1] and the intake of processed red meat may be more likely to cause coronary heart disease, stroke, and/or diabetes. [2] Meats are stated to be rich in the pro-oxidants heme iron, nitrates, and nitrites which can cause oxidative damage and inflammation in different organs. [3] According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) [4] and American Heart Association (AHA) [5], both unprocessed and processed red meat can increase the risks of cancer and heart disease, respectively. It was recommended that substituting white meat and fish for red meat can reduce the risks of disease development. 

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Excess Mortality among Persons with Type 2 Diabetes

Sarah Vo, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

The prevalence of diabetes is suggested to have increased over the past two decades and is expected to affect more than 500 million adults by 2030, with most being type 2 diabetes. [1]

According to the World Health Organization, type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin.  With time, it is said that diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. [2]

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2010.  Complications or co-morbid conditions associated with diabetes are said to include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and dyslipidemia. [3]

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