Evidence from recent decades supports a causal association between air pollution (particulate matter <10 μ m in diameter [PM10] and PM <2.5 μ m in diameter [PM2.5]) and oxidative stress, possibly involving impaired metabolism of glucose and lipids.

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Many studies have reported the associations between long-term exposure to PM2.5 and increased risk of death. But, to our knowledge, none of them have used causal modeling approach or controlled for long-term temperature exposure. Few have used a general population sample. The researchers estimated the causal effects of long-term PM2.5 effect on mortality and tested the effect modifications by seasonal temperatures, census-tract-level socio-economic variables, and county-level health conditions.

Rapid build-up of greenhouse gases is expected to increase Earth’s mean surface temperature, with unclear effects on temperature variability. This makes understanding the direct effects of a changing climate on human health more urgent. However, the effects of prolonged exposures to variable temperatures, which are important for understanding the public health burden, are unclear.