Air cleaners may improve COPD
Portable air cleaners may improve respiratory symptoms among former smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to an NIEHS-funded study. This is the first such environmental intervention to show potential health benefits of reduced indoor pollution among these individuals.
COPD is a progressive disease characterized by lung injury and inflammation, and there are limited treatment options. Smoking cessation can slow the advancement of COPD, but former smokers continue to be affected by the disease, which can be worsened by exposure to air pollutants such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.
The team conducted a blinded, randomized controlled trial of 116 former smokers with moderate to severe COPD. Participants received active or sham portable HEPA air cleaners for their homes and were followed for six months.
The active HEPA filter group experienced reduced respiratory symptoms and fewer urgent health care visits compared with the sham group. They also had lower rates of systemic steroid, antibiotic, or rescue medication use. Active HEPA filter users performed better on the breathlessness, cough, and sputum scale, and had better functional respiratory capacity compared with the sham group.
According to the authors, interventions that improve indoor air quality represent a potentially novel approach for improving respiratory health in patients with COPD.
Citation: Hansel NN, Putcha N, Woo H, Peng R, Diette GB, Fawzy A, Wise RA, Romero K, Davis MF, Rule AM, Eakin MN, Breysse PN, McCormack MC, Koehler K. 2021. Randomized clinical trial of air cleaners to improve indoor air quality and COPD health: results of the CLEAN AIR STUDY. Am J Respir Crit Care Med; doi:10.1164/rccm.202103-0604OC. [Online 27 August 2021]