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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Health effects of high level exposure to traditional pollutants in East Germany--review and ongoing research.

In East Germany ambient air pollution is characterized by high concentrations of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and suspended particulates (SP). Since acidity and sulfate are surprisingly low, oxidation of SO2 seems to be incomplete and neutralization seems to play an important role. Few studies on health effects of air pollution in the former German Democratic Republic have been performed. They showed an increased prevalence in polluted areas of respiratory symptoms, lung function decrement, mild anemia, nonspecific stimulation of the immune system and, retardation of skeletal maturation of children. Since the German unification in 1990, several large-scale studies have been started. Short-term effects of air pollution on daily mortality have been investigated in Erfurt retrospectively for 1980 to 1989. Logarithmic exposure-effect curves have been found for both SO2 and SP. The number of deaths increased by about 10% with SO2 and by more than 20% with SP if the 95th percentile of the pollutant is compared to the 5th percentile. The logarithmic shape shows that the increase of ambient concentrations at the beginning of the heating season in fall is more important than further increases in concentrations later in winter. A second study on short-term effects was conducted using daily peak flow measurements and respiratory symptoms in 270 patients with asthma and other obstructive airway diseases in East Germany and the Czech Republic between 1990 and 1992. From regression analysis it follows that an increase by 500 micrograms/m3 of SO2 leads to a mean decrease of the average patient's peak flow below 2%.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)[1]


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