It is a known fact that polluted air contributes to a host of health issues, including heart disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses, and even cancer. Yet, a new study adds up to it that polluted air is contributing to AMR. Indeed, this study, “The structure and diversity of human, animal and environmental resistomes”, published in the journal Microbiome, conducted by Chandan Pal, Johan Bengtsson-Palme, Erik Kristiansson and D. G. Joakim Larsson, identified “air and antibiotic-polluted environments as under-investigated transmission routes and reservoirs for antibiotic resistance” and concluded that “the high taxonomic and genetic diversity of external environments supports the hypothesis that these also form vast sources of unknown resistance genes, with potential to be transferred to pathogens in the future.”
The samples collected from polluted air in the city of Beijing contained multiple resistance genes, including those that provide resistance to the carbapenems. Joakim Larsson, coauthor of the study and director of the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research at the University of Gothenburg commented “This may be a more important means of transmission than previously thought” and invited for in-depth studies on that matter. For example, it is needed to establish if the bacteria were alive when they were in the air. For this purpose, Dr. Larsson recommends providing plant workers with personal air samplers.