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Air pollution linked to rise in antibiotic resistance


Source: The Guardian


Context: A global study suggests that air pollution is contributing to a rise in antibiotic resistance, posing a significant threat to human health worldwide.

  • The analysis shows a consistent link between increased air pollution and rising antibiotic resistance in every country and continent.
  • Particulate matter PM2.5 in the air can contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes, which might be inhaled by humans, potentially contributing to resistance.


Key findings:

  • The study, the first comprehensive global analysis of this connection, suggests that reducing air pollution could help mitigate antibiotic resistance.
  • The study acknowledges that while air pollution is recognized as a pathway for disseminating antibiotic resistance, there is limited data on specific routes that antibiotic-resistant genes travel via air pollution.
  • The research found that antibiotic resistance increases with PM2.5 air pollution, with a 10% rise in pollution associated with a 1.1% increase in resistance.
  • A modelling scenario suggests that without changes to current air pollution policies, antibiotic resistance could rise by 17% by 2050, resulting in around 840,000 annual premature deaths attributed to resistance.