Exposure to air pollution, even at levels below the current EPA safety limit, significantly ups the risk of diabetes, say researchers from Children’s Hospital in Boston.

These findings remained after adjusting for known diabetes risk factors including obesity, exercise, geographic latitude, ethnicity and population density

“We wanted to do everything possible to reduce confounding and ensure the validity of our findings,” notes John Pearson, the study’s lead author.

“We didn’t have data on individual exposure, so we can’t prove causality, and we can’t know exactly the mechanism of these peoples’ diabetes,” acknowledges co-author John Brownstein, PhD. “But pollution came across as a significant predictor in all our models.”

“From a policy perspective, the findings suggest that the current EPA limits on exposure may not be adequate to prevent negative public health outcomes from particulate matter exposure,” Dr. Brownstein adds.

Diabetes Care – October 2010;33:2196-2201.

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