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ELF - Air quality in nursing homes affecting lung health of residents

The European Lung Foundation (ELF) has highlighted the serious effect of indoor air quality in nursing homes on the lung health of elderly residents.

A new study (published in the European Respiratory Journal) is the first to detail the negative effects of poor air quality in nursing homes across several countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Poland and Sweden. The pollutants including PM10, PM0.1, formaldehyde, NO2 and O3 come from a range of sources including heaters, building materials, furniture, cleaning products, disinfectants and cooling systems.

Researchers from an EU research project assessed the level of five indoor air pollutants in 50 different nursing homes. A total of 600 residents aged over 65 years participated in a number of clinical tests including lung function testing and a health questionnaire.

The results showed that exposure to high levels of PM10 and NO2 was significantly associated with breathlessness and cough. High levels of PM0.1 were associated with wheeze during the last year and high concentrations of formaldehyde were linked with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

As life expectancy increases, more people live in nursing homes. As a person gets older, their body becomes more susceptible to the risks of air pollution and they are also exposed to higher levels of indoor air pollution due to their reduced activity.

ELF says the majority of lung diseases are preventable therefore it is necessary to focus on strategies that target the risk factors linked to these diseases. Public awareness should be raised through campaigns such as Healthy Lungs for Life.

The full journal article is available here

Originally posted on 9 April 2015

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