Is AntiMicrobial Resistance being made worse by Air Pollution ?

Yes, air pollution is a major environmental factor that can contribute to antimicrobial resistance. The main type of air pollution that is linked to antibiotic resistance is fine particulate matter (PM2.5). PM2.5 is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets that are so small that they can easily enter the lungs and bloodstream.

Studies have shown that PM2.5 can damage the lungs and make them more susceptible to infection. It can also damage the immune system, making it less effective at fighting off infection. In addition, PM2.5 can carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic-resistance genes. When these bacteria and genes are inhaled, they can colonize the lungs and spread to other parts of the body.

A study published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health in 2023 found that for every 10% increase in PM2.5 pollution, there was a 1.1% increase in antibiotic resistance. The study estimated that antibiotic resistance caused by PM2.5 pollution led to about 0.48 million premature deaths and 18.2 million years of life lost globally in the year 2018.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target of reducing PM2.5 pollution to 5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) by the year 2050. If this target is met, it could potentially reduce antibiotic resistance by around 16.8% and prevent about 23.4% of premature deaths related to antibiotic resistance.


There are a number of things that can be done to reduce air pollution and its impact on antibiotic resistance. These include:

  • Reducing the use of fossil fuels
  • Investing in renewable energy sources
  • Improving public transportation
  • Planting trees
  • Reducing deforestation
  • Enacting stricter air quality regulations

By taking these steps, we can help to protect our health and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com


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