While the debate over air pollution has been raging for decades, a recent study shows yet another reason for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement new protective regulations surrounding air contamination. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 30 percent of Americans are obese. At a recent conference at Colby College it was emphasized that the cause may be beyond the control of individuals, placing much of the blame on pollution caused by manufacturing.
Pollution Causes Obesity and Diabetes
Scientists have known for some time that chemical exposure, such as air pollution and ultrafine particles (coined PM2.5 by scientists), increases the likelihood of developing various health conditions including pulmonary, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. In fact, individuals who live in areas of high air pollution have a higher risk of chronic bronchitis, heart attacks and asthma.
Children are at an increased risk for developing these conditions, because their immune systems are not as fully developed as adults are, and individuals who live in low-income communities may have a greater chance of developing an illness because these communities are typically located closer to power plants, factories and highways than high-income neighborhoods.
Research Shows a Strong Connection
One Harvard study showed the connection between pollution and diabetes to be strong. The study revealed, “Even for counties within guidelines for EPA PM2.5 exposure limits, those with the highest exposure showed a >20% increase in diabetes prevalence compared with that for those with the lowest levels of PM2.5, an association that persisted after controlling for diabetes risk factors. Our results suggest PM2.5 may contribute to increased diabetes prevalence in the adult U.S. population. These findings add to the growing evidence that air pollution is a risk factor for diabetes.”
An Ohio State University study on mice supported these findings, showing that mice exposed to PM2.5 at a young age were more likely to develop diabetes, even when eating a normal diet.
Small particles created by residential wood fuel combustion, coal-fired power plants, road traffic and industrial manufacturing are released into the air and other parts of the environment. Some of these particles mimic certain hormones in the body. Because fat tissue is part of the hormone production process, exposure to industrial chemicals can change the structure of fat cells. This can cause metabolic changes that cause obesity, leading scientists to call these particles “obesogens.”
The Colby conference’s keynote speaker, Bruce Blumberg, is a University of California-Irvine developmental and cell biology researcher. He explains, “Obesogens stimulate the development of fat cells or the storage [capacity] of new cells.” Blumberg urged action, concerned that chemical exposure could affect the long-term health of this and future generations.
Citizens Must Take Matters into Their Own Hands
The depressed economy has been an excuse for lawmakers to refrain from adding regulations that would protect residents. That leaves only two avenues to change this dangerous condition: grass-roots political campaigns or individuals asserting their legal rights.
If you believe your obesity or Type II diabetes stems from local chemical exposure to air pollutants or industrial chemicals, contact our attorneys. We will provide you with a free consultation and work with you to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.