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Title: On the triad of air PM pollution, pathogenic bioaerosols, and lower respiratory infection
Authors: He, T 
Jin, L 
Li, X 
Issue Date: Apr-2023
Source: Environmental geochemistry and health, Apr. 2023, v. 45, no. 4, p. 1067-1077
Abstract: Airborne particulate matter (PM) pollution, as a leading environmental health risk, causes millions of premature deaths globally every year. Lower respiratory infection (LRI) is a sensitive response to short-term exposure to outdoor PM pollution. The airborne transmission of etiological agents of LRI, as an important pathway for infection and morbidity, bridges the public health issues of air quality and pathogen infectivity, virulence, resistance, and others. Enormous efforts are underway to identify common pathogens and substances that are etiological agents for LRI and to understand the underlying toxicological and clinical basis of health effects by identifying mechanistic pathways. Seasonal variations and geographical disparities in the survival and infectivity of LRI pathogens are unsolved mysteries. Weather conditions in geographical areas may have a key effect, but also potentially connect LRI with short-term increases in ambient air PM pollution. Statistical associations show that short-term elevations in fine and coarse PM lead to increases in respiratory infections, but the causative agents could be chemical or microbiological and be present individually or in mixtures, and the interactions between chemical and microbiological agents remain undefined. Further investigations on high-resolution monitoring of airborne pathogens in relation to PM pollution for an integrated exposure–response assessment and mechanistic study are warranted. Improving our understanding of the spatiotemporal features of pathogenic bioaerosols and air pollutants and translating scientific evidence into effective policies is vital to reducing the health risks and devastating death toll from PM pollution. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]
Keywords: Air pollution
Biogeochemical factors
Infectious pathogens
Lower respiratory infection
Spatiotemporal patterns
Publisher: Springer
Journal: Environmental geochemistry and health 
ISSN: 0269-4042
EISSN: 1573-2983
DOI: 10.1007/s10653-021-01025-7
Rights: © The Author(s) 2021
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
The following publication He, T., Jin, L. & Li, X. On the triad of air PM pollution, pathogenic bioaerosols, and lower respiratory infection. Environ Geochem Health 45, 1067–1077 (2023) is available at
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