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Antibiotic resistance linked to air pollution?

Reducing levels of harmful air pollution could help reduce antibiotic resistance, according to the first in-depth global analysis of possible links between the two.

Findings from the study highlight that controlling air pollution could greatly reduce deaths and economic costs stemming from antibiotic-resistant infections. 

It indicates that the relationship between the two has strengthened, with increases in air pollution coinciding with larger increases in antibiotic resistance in recent years.

Misuse and overuse of antibiotics are the main drivers of antibiotic resistance, but evidence suggests air pollution also contributes.

However, until now, there was limited data on how much influence PM2.5 air pollution – which is made up of particles 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair – has on antibiotic resistance globally.

Sources of PM2.5 include industrial processes, road transport and burning coal and wood. Recent findings indicate 7.3 billion people globally are directly exposed to unsafe average annual PM2.5 levels.

The findings indicate antibiotic resistance increases with PM2.5, with every 1% rise in air pollution linked with increases in antibiotic resistance of between 0.5% and 1.9%, depending on the pathogen. The association has strengthened over time, with changes in PM2.5 levels leading to larger increases in antibiotic resistance in more recent years.

Image Credit | Getty


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