Of all the obvious health risks associated with smog, another one now can be added to the list: rheumatoid arthritis.
Researchers will present their findings this week about air pollution, specifically sulfur dioxide, leading to the painful disease of the joints.
Researchers studied 2,100 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and compared them with more than 93,000 disease-free people living in both the United States and Sweden.
In the U.S. subjects with a greater exposure to sulfur dioxide had a 5 percent greater risk of developing the disease. In Sweden, exposure to sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, or nitrogen oxide put participants at up to an 11 percent higher risk.
Dr. Jaime Hart, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, pointed out the risk percentages are higher for people with a lower socioeconomic status.
Those “with a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to live in houses where more air pollution leaks in from the outside or other factors, such as general health status, that may make them more susceptible to the effects of air pollution,” Hart said.
The study is being presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in Chicago.