Air pollution has long been established as a human health hazard, but a new study points that air pollution can also worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The study, commissioned by India’s Department of Science and Technology, was conducted from 2008 to 2013 by investigators at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and was released before the World Arthritis Day last Oct. 12.
For the study, researchers studied data on the air quality in one of world’s most polluted cities via New Delhi’s Indian Meteorological Department, according to Uma Kumar, head of Rheumatology Medicine department at AIIMS.
Researchers then also looked into those patients who are receiving therapy at AIIMS for their condition.
The researchers discovered that “when the particulate matter in air was high, more disease activity was found in the patients,” as stated by Kumar.
In addition, the study also found that the disease activity peaks during November and December, the months in which suspended particulate matter (SPM) 2.5 in the atmosphere sees an increase.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of autoimmune joint disease commonly affecting the joints on the wrists and fingers.
People with this condition often suffer from joint pains and stiffness and even loss of joint functions. Those in the study were found to have their symptoms worsened.
“The preliminary findings already indicate a connection with SPM 2.5, but we are analyzing other environmental pollutants too to establish if they are related to the symptoms,” Kumar said, according to the report.
The study reportedly could take two more years to complete.