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IMAGE: Even the briefest increase in airborne fine particulate matter PM2.5, pollution-causing particles that are about 3% of the diameter of human hair, is associated with the development of acute lower… view more 

Credit: Intermountain Medical Center

Even the briefest increase in airborne fine particulate matter PM2.5, pollution-causing particles that are about 3 percent of the diameter of human hair, is associated with the development of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in young children, according to newly published research.

Increases in PM2.5 levels also led to increased doctor visits for these lung infections.

The groundbreaking study, “Short-Term Elevation of Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Acute Lower Respiratory Infection,” is the largest to date on this health concern, involving more than 100,000 patients.

The research was undertaken by a team from Intermountain Healthcare, Brigham Young University, and the University of Utah, and is published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, an American Thoracic Society journal.

“The most important finding of this study is that infectious processes of respiratory disease may be influenced by particulate matter pollution at various levels,” said lead author Benjamin Horne, PhD, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain

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