The Effects of Air Pollution and Temperature on COPD

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66 Scopus citations


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects 12–16 million people in the United States and is the third-leading cause of death. In developed countries, smoking is the greatest risk factor for the development of COPD, but other exposures also contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Several studies suggest, though are not definitive, that outdoor air pollution exposure is linked to the prevalence and incidence of COPD. Among individuals with COPD, outdoor air pollutants are associated with loss of lung function and increased respiratory symptoms. In addition, outdoor air pollutants are also associated with COPD exacerbations and mortality. There is much less evidence for the impact of indoor air on COPD, especially in developed countries in residences without biomass exposure. The limited existing data suggests that indoor particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide concentrations are linked to increased respiratory symptoms among patients with COPD. In addition, with the projected increases in temperature and extreme weather events in the context of climate change there has been increased attention to the effects of heat exposure. Extremes of temperature—both heat and cold—have been associated with increased respiratory morbidity in COPD. Some studies also suggest that temperature may modify the effect of pollution exposure and though results are not conclusive, understanding factors that may modify susceptibility to air pollution in patients with COPD is of utmost importance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-379
Number of pages8
JournalCOPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 3 2016


  • COPD
  • heat
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • ozone
  • particulate matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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