AIIMS: How 4-yr study mapped pollution-arthritis link

The study showed that as particulate matter (PM) levels increased in the air, symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis took a turn for the worse.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Updated: November 1, 2016 11:56 am
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In a study conducted by AIIMS, the symptoms of 500 persons with active Rheumatoid Arthritis was compared with air parameters in Delhi. The median age for men was 43 years and while it was 48 years for women. The disease duration was 10 years.

The study showed that as particulate matter (PM) levels increased in the air, symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis took a turn for the worse. This indicates that there is a significant correlation between the increase in levels of particulate matters in Delhi and a flare in arthritis symptoms.

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z In 2012, levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5 “significantly correlated with flare of disease”. When PM 10 levels were recorded at 310 µg/m3, 300 patients were found to have correlation between the flare of disease. But when the PM 10 levels stood at 100 µg/m3, less than 60 patients showed worsening of symptoms. When PM 2.5 levels were recorded at 190 µg/m3, 300 patients showed correlation between flare of disease and increase in PM levels. But when PM 2.5 levels stood at 50 µg/m3, only 100 patients showed worsening of symptoms.

z In 2013, levels of PM 2.5 “significantly correlated with flare of disease”. This time, when PM 2.5 stood at 180 µg/m3, 300 patients showed correlation between flare of disease and rise in PM levels. When PM 2.5 levels stood at 70 µg/m3, however, less than 60 patients showed worsening of symptoms.

z In 2014, a similar trend like that of 2012 was seen — where both PM 10 and PM 2.5 “significantly correlated with flare of disease”. When PM 10 was recorded at 310 µg/m3, 300 patients were found to have a correlation between flare of disease and rise in PM levels. But when PM 10 levels stood at 100 µg/m3, less than 60 patients with active disease showed worsening of symptoms. Similarly, when levels of PM 2.5 were recorded at 190 µg/m3, 300 patients showed correlation between flare of disease and increase in PM levels. But when the PM 2.5, stood at 50 µg/m3, only 100 patients showed worsening of symptoms.

z In 2015, besides showing PM levels correlating with flare of disease, the study showed that “there was trend towards increased joint symptoms with increased PM 2.5 levels”. Both PM 10 and PM 2.5 showed a similar trend when compared to 2014. As PM levels rose, 300 patients were found to have a correlation between flare of disease and rise in PM levels. When PM levels were between 50-100 µg/m3, only 50-60 patients showed worsening of symptoms.