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Air Pollution May Negatively Affect ‘Every Organ’ in the Human Body

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Pedestrians wearing masks walk during a polluted day in Seoul, South Korea.

A new comprehensive report on air pollution and human health finds that pollution can cause widespread health damage on virtually all areas of the body. While the impact of pollution on the heart and lungs is well established, researchers found pollution is “potentially affecting every organ in the body.” Less-established health impacts include damage to organs such as the brain, bladder, and skin. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if almost every organ was affected,” Dean Schraufnagel, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who led the report, told the Guardian. “If something is missing [from the review] it is probably because there was no research yet.”

Published in the journal Chest, the study finds that inflammatory pollutants are circulated throughout the body via the bloodstream, leaving no part of the body untouched. The authors find that various health conditions, such as diabetes, dementia, cancer, and brittle bones, may be caused or worsened by air pollution as well.

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