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Air Pollution and Antibiotic Resistance

Global Brief

Air Pollution and Antibiotic Resistance

Air pollution is not only harmful to human health, but it can also contribute to antibiotic resistance. Using 18 years of data from 116 countries, researchers observed that exposure to high levels of particulate matter air pollution can significantly increase the risk of antibiotic resistance in bacterial infections. 

Excessive and often inappropriate use of antibiotics has contributed to the evolution of superbugs that are resistant to life-saving antibiotics. However, this study published in The Lancet reveals that air pollution also plays a role in exacerbating the issue. The harmful particles in the air act as vehicles, facilitating the spread of antibiotic-resistant genes and promoting the survival and proliferation of resistant bacteria. By raising awareness about the environmental factors contributing to antibiotic resistance, changes to mitigate pollution and protect public health can be implemented. Efforts to reduce air pollution through stricter regulations, cleaner energy sources and sustainable practices can make a significant impact in preserving the efficacy of antibiotics.

Photo credit: Chris LeBoutillier/Canva

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