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A recent study explored the potential link between yearlong air pollution levels and the severity of atopic dermatitis in people in the United States. Here’s what you should know:

  • No significant link was found between yearlong exposure to pollution containing small particulate matter within EPA safety standards and the severity of atopic dermatitis.
  • Most people with atopic dermatitis in the United States live within the EPA’s recommended air quality standards.
  • While concerns about air pollution and atopic dermatitis exist, current pollution levels in the United States do not appear to worsen AD.

If you or a loved one lives with atopic dermatitis (AD), commonly referred to as eczema, you may be concerned about the potential effects of air pollution on the condition. PM2.5 refers to particles in the air that are small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs, potentially causing various health problems. 

Some studies show that short-term spikes in pollution can trigger AD symptoms. However, it’s unclear what effects consistent, yearlong exposure within US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards might have on AD.

Key Findings from a Recent Study

A study published in the journal JAAD International looked at data from over 30,000 AD patients over a 1-year period (from October 19, 2017 to October 19, 2018). Participants were at least 12 years old and had an AD diagnosis. The median age of subjects was 46 years old, with 64% being female. Researchers wanted to find out if there’s a link between the severity of AD symptoms and the average PM2.5 levels in residential areas.

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The results showed that people with moderate-to-severe symptoms tend to be slightly older and more likely to live in non-metropolitan areas. However, the study found no significant link between yearlong PM2.5 pollution levels and the severity of AD. On average, the pollution levels were consistent between people with different severities of AD symptoms.

Observations of Air Quality Over the Years

Over the past two decades, there’s been a 37% decrease in the United States’ annual average PM2.5 levels. The study notes that most people with AD in the United States live in areas where the air quality is within the EPA’s standard recommendations.

What Does This Mean for You?

The good news is that for those living within the recommended EPA standards for PM2.5, there doesn’t seem to be an increased risk of severe AD from year-long exposure. There are concerns regarding the effects of air pollution on overall health; however, current pollution levels in the United States don’t seem to be causing a worsening of AD symptoms.

As always, if you or someone you know struggles with AD, consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional for medical advice and appropriate care.


Trinh, P., Allerup, J. a. C., Li, S., Ko, J., Chen, J., Linos, E., & Chiou, A. S. (2023). Evaluation of association between yearlong air pollution and Moderate-Severe Atopic Dermatitis: A United States Cross-Sectional Claims Analysis. JAAD International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdin.2023.04.017