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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UCLA: Planning a Trip Abroad? Before You Pack, Check Air Pollution Levels

There are many things people research when planning a vacation or business trip abroad — such as the weather, how to get around a city and where to access free Wi-Fi. But one important piece of information that some people don’t look at is a city’s air pollution levels.

A new study by researchers at UCLA shows that even a short-term visit to a severely polluted city can be detrimental to one’s health. The study involved 26 non-smoking, healthy adults (with a mean age of 23.8 years) who traveled from Los Angeles to Beijing during the summers of 2014 and 2015 over a 10-week period. The study participants were split into two groups and blood samples were taken in the first group at eight weeks and in the second group at six weeks after arrival in Beijing. The study was done in collaboration with Peking University in Beijing.

The study participants experienced significant health changes during their time in Beijing, including higher levels of oxidized fats, causing increased heart inflammation; and a change in enzyme function, which is associated with heart disease. The study also found that these individuals had up to an 800 percent greater concentration of air pollutants in their bodies than they did when in Los Angeles.

The good news is that when they returned to Los Angeles, most of the negative health effects largely reversed within four to seven weeks. The research is published in the journal Circulation from the American Heart Association.

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