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TAPAS Experimental project: air pollution and physical activity in the city

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

TAPAS Experimental project: air pollution and physical activity in the city

In the conference “Tapas experimental study: Respiratory and inflammatory health effects of air pollution and physical activity”, last June 21th in the CREAL, Nadine Kubesch explained the main objectives of this study: “TAPAS experimental is an intervention study in real world conditions including real-time personal exposure monitoring. The objective was to assess the subclinical responses in a healthy population following short terms exposures to traffic related air pollution, and to assess if these responses change through Physical Activity (e.g. cycling, running) in polluted air.” This study it is part of a European Project.

The inhalation of particulate matter has effects on lungs (inflammation, oxidative stress, etc.), blood, heart, brain, and on the vasculature system. Inflammation is a complex sequence of interconnected reactions, and it leads to increased vascular permeability and the local recruitment and activation of cells.

Study design

“Physical activity has health benefits (e.g reduction of overweight) and helps to decrease the inflammatory response. Our project tried to simulate real world conditions. We did not use an exposure chamber, and simulated commuting pattern that we find in active and passive transportation. The study included four exposure scenarios: high and low level air pollution exposure, both combined with and without physical activity”, explained the researcher.

The volunteers were among 18 and 60 years, non-smokers, normal weighted or overweighed, healthy (without any kind of medication except hormonal contraception, no chronic conditions, normal lung function and no acute infection) and were not exposed to dust, fumes or gases during work.

“The high level air pollution place was in an intense traffic area, and the other with lower air pollution was Mercat de la Barceloneta. In each of the experiment days we monitored real-time personal exposure while one volunteer was sitting and another one cycled in these places. Cycling was for 15 minutes alternating with 15 minutes resting, for two hours while  real-time air pollution exposure monitoring. The idea was to cycle the cycle the stationary bicycle in moderate intensity, which is about 50-70% of the maximum heart rate. We measured before and after the exposure a variety of mainly inflammatory markers in blood, lung function, lung inflammation, oxygen saturation, heart rate variability, and the blood pressure ”, explained the CREAL researcher.

Results of TAPAS

After 59 experiments with 31 volunteers, we have seen that the air conditions were very contrasting in the two exposure sites and, pollutants were found to be up to 10 times higher in the more polluted site. The results suggest that physical activity is prevailing the effect of the exposure to traffic related air pollution on lung function and also lung- and systemic inflammation markers. There was no interaction between air pollution and physical activity.

Image: rsanchezcrespo / Flickr


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