Exacerbations of COPD: environmental mechanisms

Chest. 2000 May;117(5 Suppl 2):390S-7S. doi: 10.1378/chest.117.5_suppl_2.390s.


Air pollution as a trigger for exacerbations of COPD has been recognized for > 50 years, and has led to the development of air quality standards in many countries that substantially decreased the levels of air pollutants derived from the burning of fossil fuels, such as black smoke and sulfur dioxide. However, the recent dramatic increase in motor vehicle traffic has produced a relative increase in the levels of newer pollutants, such as ozone and fine-particulate air pollution < 10 microm in diameter. Numerous epidemiologic studies have shown associations between the levels of these air pollutants and adverse health effects, such as exacerbations of airways diseases and even deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular causes. Elucidation of the mechanism of the harmful effects of these pollutants should allow improved risk assessment for patients with airways diseases who are be susceptible to the effects of these air pollutants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Recurrence
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Survival Rate


  • Air Pollutants
  • NF-kappa B