Air pollution and diabetes: Pollution levels too high


A new national study has found that there is a statistical correlation between exposure to air pollution and adult diabetes. The air pollution studied is known as particulate air pollution so named for the small particles of microscopic matter that are found in factory smoke, engine exhaust, haze, and smog.

The particles are measured in nanometers so PM10 would be "particulate matter of 10 nanometers size." The Environmental Protection Agency standards say it is safe to breath air with a PM level of 2.5 or below. But is it? Has this level been set for people's health or to save auto makers and other pollution generating industries from the expense of having to clean up their exhaust to a level far below the "safe" level of PM2.5?

Under the G. W. Bush's administration the Union of Concerned Scientists condemned the blatant suppression of both the scientists and the scientific studies at the EPA to cover up the harmful effects of air pollution and the true levels of safety. The Obama administration has taken steps to improve the situation but more has to be done.

Science Daily (based on a study published in Diabetes Care) has recently reported that scientists have discovered that air pollution levels set at 2.5, are linked to the development of diabetes in adults. Exposure to the particulate matter in air causes inflammation associated with insulin resistance which is a sign of possible future diabetes onset.

The scientists compared EPA data on air pollution levels with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data on diabetes on a county by county basis for the entire US. Science Daily reports that, "In all analyses, there was a strong and consistent association between diabetes prevalence and PM2.5 concentrations." This association also held at lower levels.

Of course there are many other causes of diabetes-- heredity, obesity, diet, etc., but this new evidence also shows that the EPA's 2.5PM safety limit for air pollution is set too high. Congress and the administration must take action to ensure that capitalist profits do not, yet again, come before people.


Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • See The Poisoned Planet, a novel by myself, Timothy R. Oesch, MD., available per the Internet through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

    Posted by Timothy R. Oesch, 10/20/2010 9:54am (5 years ago)

  • A small correction.

    PM10 (coarse) is 10 micrometers or less in diameter; PM2.5 (fine) is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter. A micrometer is a millionth of a meter. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, one thousand times as small. PM10 and PM2.5 are regulated by US EPA. Nanometers, which are much more numerous, especially near large mobile sources like highways, are not regulated but are thought to be responsible for near source health effects - whether occcupational, residential, work or exercise related.

    Ultrafine (100 nanometers or less) particle density near a busy highway during the first half of morning rush hour can easily exceed 100,000 particles per cubic centimeter (about the size of a small sugar cube). Each breath contains thousands of cubic centimeters. Once inhaled, ultrafines have very high retention rates.

    Cheers, Wig

    Posted by Wig Zamore, 10/13/2010 6:31pm (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments