More Smog Might Mean More Hospitalizations

In New England, Medicare patients from more-polluted areas were more apt to need care

WEDNESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) — Long-term exposure to fine-particle air pollution may increase older adults’ risk of being hospitalized for lung and heart disease, stroke and diabetes, a new study says.

Harvard School of Public Health researchers compared air-quality data with hospital admission records on all Medicare patients aged 65 and older admitted to 3,000 New England hospitals between 2000 and 2006.

The researchers focused on fine air particles known as PM2.5, which have a diameter of 2.5 microns or less and are narrower than the width of a human hair. These particles — emitted by vehicles, power plants, wood-burning devices and some industrial processes — can lodge in the lungs and cause inflammation throughout the body. Read More