Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Researcher rejects “air pollution causes black lung" story as urban myth

by Michael Woodhead
Health experts have dismissed online rumours that the recent spate of air pollution in China may cause lungs to turn irreversibly black within six days.
The claims have been made on microblogging sites and state that a Fudan University study in animals had shown that exposure to a week of high levels of small PM2.5 particles could turn the lungs black. The story was said to originate from a study by  Fudan University Professor Song Weimin .The story also claims that the black lung changes are irreversible without expensive and time-consuming medical treatment
According to the claims, which were forwarded by thousands of microblog site users, the academic study in rats found that the irreversible ‘black lung’ syndrome was mediated by release of inflammatory cytokines.
However, Fudan University School of Public Health Professor Song Weimin told news reporters that he had never done any rat inhalation experiments leading to black lung.
He said his study had actually collected PM2.5 on a filter and then these had been applied artificially to rat lungs in vitro.
He said the test conditions represented PM2.5 concentrations that were thousands of times higher than those experienced in the real world. He said his study did not show that the particle turned lung tissue black, nor were the changes seen irreversible.
"The argument that ‘haze for six days turn fresh lung black’ is not correct,” he said.

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