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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

University at Buffalo: Study Reveals How Beijing Olympics Air Pollution Affected Area Residents

A new University at Buffalo study based on levels before, during and after the Beijing Olympics reveals how air pollution affects the human body at the level of metabolites.

Researchers found that 69 metabolites changed significantly when air pollution changed. Their results were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study identified two major metabolic signatures, one consisting of lipids and a second that included dipeptides, polyunsaturated fatty acids, taurine, and xanthine. Many of those metabolites are involved in oxidative stress, inflammation, cardiovascular and nervous systems, researchers note.

The findings are based on the Beijing Olympics Air Pollution study, conducted during the 2008 Olympic Games in China, when temporary air pollution controls were implemented. The study was led by UB epidemiologist Dr. Lina Mu.

The study enrolled 201 adults prior to Beijing’s air quality improvement initiative, when air pollution was high. Researchers followed them during the Games, when air pollution was low, and afterward, when levels returned to their usual high in the city of 21 million people. A subset of 26 non-smokers aged 30 to 65 was selected for the metabolomics analysis.

Metabolites are small molecules that are the end products of environmental exposures, such as air pollution, and body metabolism. “Think of our body as a society. These metabolites fulfill different positions, such as teacher, farmer, worker, soldier. We need each one functioning properly in order to maintain a healthy system,” said Dr. Mu, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health in University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

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