05-18-09 RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The next time you develop a strange skin rash, don’t automatically blame it on the guy at the gym who used the treadmill before you did. It may have come from a less-obvious source, like the air. A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has found a link between certain types of pollution and itchy skin, irritated eyes, and headaches.
THE DETAILS: French researchers analyzed the air’s levels of nitrogen dioxide, small particulate matter, and ozone in urban areas around Bordeaux, an area of France with pollution levels that are often slightly higher than what the World Health Organization considers safe. They then gathered medical case reports from SOS Medicins, a public health-care network that makes emergency house calls, focusing on the number of visits related to complaints of respiratory problems (such as tonsillitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, asthma, bronchitis, or cough). conjunctivitis, skin rash, headaches, and asthenia (a condition defined by general feelings of weakness usually triggered by allergies).