Breathing polluted air may be the blame for an increased risk of kidney disease in places like Los Angeles, a new study says.
Researchers at St. Louis' Washington University School of Medicine found that the rate of kidney disease rose as pollution levels rose, reports NBC4 media partner KPCC.
Using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the researchers tracked pollution levels in cities across the U.S., along with rates of kidney disease among nearly 2.5 million military veterans from 2004 to 2012.
"There are about 45,000 new cases of kidney disease per year that can be attributed to air pollution," said Ziyad Al-Aly, senior author of the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
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The culprit is particulate matter that ends up in the air from the burning of fossil fuels. Those particulates can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body after being inhaled.
Los Angeles has the fourth highest annual level of particulates in the U.S. In 2016, LA's air had nearly double the amount of particulate matter that the EPA considers safe.