New, recently conducted research shows the effect that black carbon has on respiratory tract bacteria. The study mainly showed how air pollution directly impacts the bacteria in our bodies, especially our respiratory tract consisting of the nose, throat, and lungs.
The interdisciplinary researchers of the University of Leicester have looked into the effects of black carbon on bacteria in the respiratory tract.
Some experts from the University of Leicester have recently realised that the bacteria in air pollution is the major source of the bacteria affecting our respiratory tract. It has been discovered that air pollution serves as a catalyst for respiratory infections, and also reduces the potency and effectiveness of antibiotics.
This interdisciplinary research, published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, has significant effects for the treatment of infectious diseases, which have the potential to be more common in areas with high density air pollution.
The research was specifically aimed at how air pollution directly affects the bacteria present in the body, most especially the respiratory tract.
One of the main components of air pollution is black carbon, the result of burning fossil fuels like diesel, bio-fuels, biomass and others.
This study has shown that this pollutant alters the development of bacteria, boosting their life expectancy on the lining of the respiratory tract and increasing their ability to adapt and survive the immune system.
Dr. Julie Morrissey, an Associate Professor in Microbial Genetics in the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics and the lead author on the research of air pollution and its effects on our bodies says that this research increases our knowledge of the impact of air pollution on human health. It further reveals that the bacteria causing respiratory infections are the result of air pollution. This ultimately increases the chances of disease and reduces the efficacy of antibiotic treatment of these illnesses.
“Our study has instigated an entirely new knowledge of the effects of air pollution on human health. This will also improve our level of research to know more about the severe impacts of air pollution on our respiratory tracts and how it directly affects the environmental cycles that are essential for healthy living.”
Dr. Shane Hussey and Dr. Jo Purves, other associates working on the research, also said:
“Everybody worldwide is vulnerable to air pollution anytime we breathe. It’s impossible for us to reduce our exposure to air pollution knowing well that it can affect our health. This makes it imperative for us to understand its effects on our health and how we can stop these effects from further damaging our health.”
The study was based on two human pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae, both known to be the primary causes of respiratory diseases and represent pathogens with strong resistance to antibiotics.
The team discovered that black carbon can change the antibiotic resistance of Staphylococcus aureus communities and can also boost the resistance of communities of Streptococcus pneumoniae to antibiotics like penicillin, considered to be the major antibiotic for the treatment of bacterial pneumonia.
It was also discovered that black carbon causes Streptococcus pneumoniae to move from the nose to the lower respiratory tract serving as a primary step in the growth of the disease.
Professors Julian Ketley, Professor of Bacterial Genetics, an expert from the Department of Genetics and Peter Andrew, Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis, Department of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation, said:
“Urbanisation in megacities with a high level of air pollution is the primary risk factor for human health in several parts of the world. The goal of this research is to lead and actively participate in international research with other experts including biologists, chemists, clinicians, social scientists and urban planners. We will all look into how urbanisation serves as a major factor in promoting infectious disease.”
The World Health Organisation has said that air pollution is the
“Biggest single environmental risk to our health.”
Air pollution is considered to be responsible for almost 7 million deaths per year, making it one of the major causes of all global deaths.
Several countries including the United Kingdom have been found to breach the recommended pollution limit created by the World Health Organisation.
One of the top experts in the study of air pollution, Professor Paul Monks, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and Head of the College of Science and Engineering also said “The lead experts in the field of genetics, microbiology, and air pollution chemistry have all come together to provide us with a reliable multidisciplinary groundbreaking enlightenment.
“This study has a major potential to start a worldwide research that will make us to further comprehend the effects of air pollution and provide us with major ways by which we can control this pollution.”