Could Type 2 Diabetes Be Linked to Poor Air Pollution?

Today, we know of many contributing factors that can relate to type 2 diabetes, such as genetics and poor lifestyle choices. However, a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health has found significant research that air pollution emitted by cars and trucks may also be a cause.

Air Pollution and Diabetes Research

This research has been done before, but what is so significant about this particular study is the fact that it quantifies exactly how many people with diabetes were affected by air pollution in one year. In 2016 alone, around 150,000 people in the United States and 14 percent globally had reported cases of diabetes caused by air pollution.

The particles examined in this study were 2.5 micrometers in size, which put into perspective, is about 30 times smaller than a human hair. Although this small size seems insignificant, these invisible particles are actually extremely harmful to human health. Caused by fuel burning in factories and in cars, they are so dangerous because of the toxic metals they contain. Because they are also so small, they can creep into peoples’ bloodstreams and circulate to various organs throughout the body. This causes inflammation, which then creates an insulin resistance where diabetes can kick in.

diabetes, air pollution

Ways to Help Eliminate Air Pollution

Anyone who drives a car (which is the majority of us) is considered guilty of contributing to the Earth’s poor air pollution quality. So what can we do to help better the cause? Unfortunately, this is a problem that cannot be fixed overnight, but even small changes can yield great results. Here are a few things that you can do to help eliminate air pollution, a major cause of diabetes.

Carpool to Work or School

Although this most likely still involves using a car, at least it means that fewer fumes are emitted into the air. You will find that limiting driving by carpooling can also help you save money on gas and give you the opportunity to make new friends along the way.

Opt to Use Public Transportation

There are many great options when it comes to public transportation. Depending on the area that you live in, there may be trains and buses available. When I was going to school in Salt Lake City, UT, there was awesome public transportation to choose from. I rode the bus almost every day and it was great. As a result, I only had to fill up my car once with gas for the whole semester!

Walk or Ride a Bike

If you need to get somewhere, decide if you’re capable of walking or riding a bike. This will all depend on your health and the distance you need to travel. Make sure to avoid doing this in heavy traffic, however, as you will be more exposed to fuel emissions from all of the cars out on the road.

diabetes, air pollution

Combine Errands for Fewer Trips

If you need to run errands, try to limit all of them down to only a few trips. For example, if you need to buy groceries and other household items, try to find a place that sells both. This will not only save you time but also help limit the number of trips that you have to take in your car. 

Keep Your Car Well Maintained

Make sure that you stay on top of your car maintenance. Take it in often to change the oil and filters, check the tire pressure and wheel alignment, and test its fuel emission.


Even if you don’t have diabetes now or think that you never will, the evidence is clear that everyone is at risk. However, by making lifestyle changes, you can help eliminate air pollution from cars, a discovered cause of diabetes. Are you ready to make the change? Let us know how in the comments below.

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Green and Growing Team

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