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Air Pollution May Alter Bacteria in Respiratory Tract Making Them Antibiotic Resistant

Update Date: Mar 04, 2017 07:11 AM EST

Air pollution that contains black carbon, one of the major contributors to air pollution can negatively affect the human health by altering the bacteria present in the respiratory tract. Black carbon changes how bacteria grow and forms biofilms. Biofilms can then improve the survival of bacteria in the lining of the airways that enables these bacteria to resist antibiotics.

Medical News Today published that air pollution has a significant implication that hinders the treatment of infectious diseases. The research pioneered at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom reveals that the bacteria that causes major respiratory infections are affected by air pollution and they increase the risk of the infection while resisting the effectiveness of the antibiotic treatment used to address such respiratory illnesses.

Julie Morrissey, associate professor of microbial genetics led that study that was later published in the journal Environmental Microbiology. The World Health Organization reveals that air pollution is indeed one of the largest environmental risks for human diseases. Around the world, 1 in every 8 deaths was associated with the exposure to air pollution.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the effect of black carbon on bacteria in the human body is still poorly understood. This particulate matter, produced from burning fossil fuels such as diesel, biomass, and biofuels.

Exposure to such particulate matters can also lead to cardiopulmonary diseases and death. Black carbon may also cause diseases in the body due to the different range of chemicals and toxicity making up the particulate matter found in polluted air.

The research focused mainly on investigating the effects of black carbon to the bacteria living in the respiratory system - nose, throat, and lungs. Two bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae, both resistant to antibiotics even showed higher resistance to medication after being exposed to polluted air. Both bacteria fall in the list of 12 priority pathogens as defined by the World Health Organization last February.

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