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July 30, 2002

School Research Shows That Air Pollution Increases Cold Symptoms

A recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that air pollution can make cold symptoms feel worse. The study found that exposure to certain pollutants and cold viruses increased the release of cytokines, which are agents in the body that cause inflammation, release of fluids, swelling, and other cold symptoms.

The inflammation in the body’s airways are aggravated when the person has a cold and is simultaneously exposed to pollutants typically found in indoor and outdoor environments.

E. William Spannhake, PhD, the study’s co-author and associate chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Associated Press, “[The effects of the common cold and pollution] may add together and pile on top of one another.”

The study was conducted by Dr. Spannhake and colleagues Sekhar P.M. Reddy, David B. Jacoby, Xiao-Ying Yu, Bahman Saatian, and Jingyan Tian. The study appears in the July issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Associated Press article

Environmental Health Perspectives

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.