A team from Birmingham University have carried out an in depth study of pollution in the UK and found a direct correlation between pollution in areas of the country and occurrences of pneumonia. While there may be other factors at play to produce the figures, such as the social culture of the area, there does seem to be a link between excessive pollution and pneumonia.
Using statistics for the period 1996 to 2004 the researchers found that of the 386,374 who died of pneumonia over the period, there were substantial regional variations. Results showed that Lewisham in London had the highest incidents of pneumonia per head of the population, with Berwick-on-Tweed having the lowest.
It also appears that of the 35 local authorities with the most cases of pneumonia, death rates in the region were some 14,718 above the national average. Interestingly it also seems that where pneumonia is most common there were also higher than averages instances of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatic heart disease and a number of cancers. While it may be a little early to claim a major breakthrough some people are even starting to compare the pollution from our roads with the London Smog of 1952 which killed over 4,000 people.
There is no doubt that pollution from cars and the like has been on the increase for some time, and while we are seeing the creation of no vehicle zones, for many people the damage may already have been done. Historically there has always been a lag between instances of pollution and the emergence of either new, or higher occurrences of certain medical conditions.
Could it be that we are seeing a new era in pollution related diseases starting? Have we left it too late to make a change for the current generation? The world seems to be constantly changing and bringing with it new and challenging situations.