(HealthDay News) — Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with clinical antibiotic resistance globally, according to a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Zhenchao Zhou, PhD, from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and colleagues presented the first global estimates of antibiotic resistance and burden of premature deaths attributable to antibiotic resistance resulting from PM2.5 pollution using data on multiple potential predictors collected in 116 countries from 2000 to 2018. Future global aggregate antibiotic resistance and premature mortality trends derived from PM2.5 were projected until 2050 under different scenarios.

More than 11.5 million tested isolates were included in the final dataset. The researchers identified consistent significant correlations globally between PM2.5 and antibiotic resistance in most antibiotic-resistant bacteria; these correlations have strengthened over time. Worldwide, in 2018, antibiotic resistance resulting from PM2.5 caused an estimated 0.48 million premature deaths and 18.2 million years of life lost, corresponding to an annual welfare loss of $395 billion due to premature deaths. If the 5 µg/m3 target of concentration of PM2.5 in the air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization is reached in 2050, antibiotic resistance is projected to decrease by 16.8%, and 23.4% of premature deaths attributable to antibiotic resistance will be averted (equivalent to $640 billion in savings).

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“This analysis is the first to show how air pollution affects antibiotic resistance globally,” the authors write. “The findings have substantial policy and environmental implications by presenting a new pathway to combat clinical antibiotic resistance by controlling environmental pollution.”

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