There is a link between high levels of air pollution and increased risk for diabetes, especially among people of color.

More about air pollution and poor health

Air pollution is “the new tobacco” according to the World Health Organization because of its damaging effects on the body. In fact, over 90% of the world’s population is breathing in toxic air. Research shows that this level of pollution can damage every cell in the human body. It can also cause heart and lung disease, liver problems, damaged skin, and stroke.

Some studies even found a link between high levels of air pollution and diabetes. Why is this? Pollutants in the air can cause widespread inflammation that floods the body and the bloodstream. This pollution could limit insulin production and trigger inflammation. This prevents the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to stay healthy.

Air pollution is a global issue. However, low-income cities are the most affected. Research shows that minority and poor communities are more likely to live near dangerous pollution. In fact, Asian American, African American, and Latino residents in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States are exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, and buses than other groups. On average, African Americans are exposed to 61% more tiny pollution particles from burning gasoline. Asian Americans breathe 73% more of these pollutants, and Latinos breathe in 75% more. In general, it is also common for urban areas to have illegal levels of pollution. This research raises the possibility that by reducing pollution, we could decrease the number of diabetes cases in polluted areas.

See our resource page for more information about Latinos and Diabetes

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Photo credit Sergio Rodriguez Portugues del Olmo at Unsplash.