Visiting highly polluted cities even for a short time may impact your health, according to a new collaborative study between UCLA and Peking University.
The researchers tracked health indicators of 26 healthy, nonsmoking Los Angeles residents before, during and after they spent 10 weeks in Beijing during the summers of 2014 and 2015, according to the study. The residents had a mean age of 23.8 years, and 14 were wƒomen.
This is the first study to look at the cardiovascular health effects of a short-term stay in a polluted city, the researchers said in a UCLA Newsroom article. The study was published in Circulation, a journal run by the American Heart Association, on Nov. 20.
The study found participants faced a higher risk of heart problems as a result of their stay. However, the overall effects of their time in Beijing reversed within four to seven weeks, according to the study.
Beijing’s concentration of particulates less than 2.5 mm in diameter was 86 micrograms per cubic millimeter of air in 2014 and 81 micrograms per cubic millimeter in 2015, according to the World Health Organization’s ambient air quality database.
Rising particulate levels led Beijing to issue its first and second red alerts for air pollution in December 2015.
Although Beijing’s air quality has improved – it was down to 58.2 micrograms of particles less than 2.5 per cubic millimeter of air in 2018, according to the website AirVisual – globally, 4.2 million premature deaths were attributable to air pollution in 2016, according to the World Health Organization. In 2016, 91% of the world lived in locations where the WHO’s recommended air quality is not met, the organization stated.