Findings of a recent study found that people who live in places with an increase air pollution level may have a higher risk for kidney disease particularly chronic kidney disease. The research was published in JASN, the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, and it assessed the information gathered from 10,997 adults in four areas in the United States, spanning the periods of 1996 to 1998 and up to 2016.

The researchers are from the School of Medicine of Johns Hopkins University. The study participants were aged 63 on the average at the beginning of the study, and their condition was followed for 18 to 20 years.

The exposure of the participants to fine particulate matter was assessed in the study. These particulate matter are known as PM2.5, since their diameter is less than 2.5 microns. The study estimated the average PM2.5 monthly levels of the areas where the participants lived, basing it on their home addresses.

The researchers' findings showed that the subjects who were exposed to high amounts of these PM2.5 particles were more prone to albuminuria, which is an indication of kidney dysfunction. The researchers noted this occurrence at the beginning of the study and followed its development during the course of the study. They found that albuminuria was linked to a higher risk for the development of chronic kidney disease with time.

PM2.5 is produced from the burning of fossil fuels in vehicle exhausts as well as industrial and power plant activities. They also come from natural sources, including the recent Australian wildfires and other forest fires that have been occurring on Indonesia and many other countries and throughout history.  This is already linked to several health conditions, which include heart disease, high blood pressure, higher chronic lung disease risk, and poorer bone health. The study was conducted because the effects of air pollution has not been considered on the health of the kidneys.

The rates and incidences of kidney diseases all over the world is on the rise. According to the study's lead author, Dr. Matthew F. Blum, it is crucial that we understand whether or not kidney disease is associated with increased exposure to air pollution, and if so, how the pathophysiological mechanisms work to produce this effect.

It has been known for some time that living in areas with dangerously high air pollution levels could have detrimental effects on one's health. It is also known that these deleterious effects extend beyond lung health. However, there have been too few studies that associate these air pollutants with the main filters of the body's blood, the kidneys.

The authors also add that their study's findings may be of even more importance for countries like India and China, where unusually higher PM2.5 levels are present. The levels in these countries are five to 10 times greater than in the United States. Further studies on this subject could focus on the significance of better health with improving air quality, particularly in reducing the rates of chronic kidney disease incidences.