The sun is not the only cause of skin discolorations. A new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reveals that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has an adverse impact on human skin, causing dark spots known as lentigenes. This finding is concerning in light of traffic-related air pollution, which increases concentrations of NO2 in communities. Previous studies have pointed to the association between nitrogen dioxide and lung disease and function, but never before cosmetic effects. Dermatologists now have specific reasons to advocate for greater air pollution protections. Don't know where to begin? Climate for Health engages health professionals in climate solutions. Join us.
Medical Xpress I February 8, 2016
A largescale study that included women from Germany and China has demonstrated a link between levels of traffic-related air pollution and air pollution-associated gases with the formation of dark spots on the skin, known as lentigenes. The most pronounced changes were observed on the cheeks of Asian women over the age of 50. The report is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
"In addition to particulate matter, traffic-related air pollution is characterized by increased concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). While NO2 exposure is known to be associated with low lung function and lung cancer, the effect of NO2 on human skin has never been investigated. This is important because environmentally-induced lung and skin aging appear to be closely related," explained lead investigator Jean Krutmann, MD, of the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Dusseldorf, Germany.
Two groups were studied. The first included 806 Caucasian German women who were part of the SALIA study (Study on the influence of Air pollution on Lung function, Inflammation and Aging). The average age was 73.5 years (range 67 to 80 years) and 20% had a history of smoking. These women reportedly spent an average of 2.6 hours a day in the sun. The second group included 743 Han Chinese women from the Taizhou region who were somewhat younger than the SALIA group, with an average age of 59 (range 28 to 70 years). Twenty percent of this group had a history of smoking, with a reported average daily sun exposure of 3.5 hours. Many more women in the SALIA group reported using cosmetics with sun protection (61% vs. 4.2%). The mean levels of NO2 exposure were 28.8 µg/m3 in the SALIA study and 24.1 µg/m3 in the Taizhou China group.
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