Identifying and managing adverse environmental health effects: 2. Outdoor air pollution

Abelsohn, Alan; Stieb, David; Sanborn, Margaret D.; Weir, Erica
April 2002
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;4/30/2002, Vol. 166 Issue 9, p1161
Academic Journal
AIR POLLUTION CONTRIBUTES TO PREVENTABLE ILLNESS AND DEATH. Subgroups of patients who appear to be more sensitive to the effects of air pollution include young children, the elderly and people with existing chronic cardiac and respiratory disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. It is unclear whether air pollution contributes to the development of asthma, but it does trigger asthma episodes. Physicians are in a position to identify patients at particular risk of health effects from air pollution exposure and to suggest timely and appropriate actions that these patients can take to protect themselves. A simple tool that uses the CH2OPD2 mnemonic (Community, Home, Hobbies, Occupation, Personal habits, Diet and Drugs) can help physicians take patients' environmental exposure histories to assess those who may be at risk. As public health advocates, physicians contribute to the primary prevention of illness and death related to air pollution in the population. In this article we review the origins of air pollutants, the pathophysiology of health effects, the burden of illness and the clinical implications of smog exposure using the illustrative case of an adolescent patient with asthma.


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