The Air in Pennsylvania: Is it Poor for Those with COPD?

By David Ebner
For Pittsburgh Senior News

A recent air quality report has prompted questions concerning lung disease and air pollution.
A recent air quality report has prompted questions concerning lung disease and air pollution.

Each year, the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report accounts for the air quality in America’s most populated counties. Though metropolitan areas throughout the state received varying results, 10 Pennsylvania areas were listed among the most polluted.

For the nearly 690,000 permanent state residents who have COPD, this statistic could be concerning. People with COPD suffer from symptom flare-ups brought on by allergens, chemical fumes, excessively warm or cold air and smoke. Symptom flare-ups include coughing, sputum, shortness of breath and fatigue. So, could air quality potentially force 690,000 residents to consider leaving the state for health reasons?

While solutions to air quality takes time, those with COPD in Pennsylvania are looking for progressive ways to treat their disease. A specialty clinic in Pittsburgh, the Lung Institute (, treats patients with lung diseases such as COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis. Rather than managing symptoms with supplemental oxygen or medications, they treat lung disease using stem cells from the patient’s body.

Stem cells act as the body’s healing system. Once alerted these cells flow to the area that needs repair. Stem cells react slowly, and realizing this, the physicians at the Lung Institute developed a process to help stem cells work more efficiently.

Lung Institute physicians extract a patient’s stem cells from blood or bone marrow tissue, separate the cells and return them intravenously. Stem cells travel through the heart to the lungs, where they are trapped in what the Lung Institute calls the pulmonary trap. Once there, they can promote healing of the lungs, potentially improving lung function.

A recent Lung Institute research study indicates that 82 percent of patients report an increase in quality of life after treatment, and 60 percent of those who took a pulmonary function test saw an increase in lung function.

Nationwide, the company operates 5 total clinics and has treated over 2,000 patients.

Improving Pennsylvania’s air quality will be a large discussion and will encompass alternative solutions. People suffering from COPD have already started the discussion about treatment options. Now, an alternative treatment is available in Pennsylvania for those with COPD in the form of stem cell therapy at the Lung Institute. Perhaps the innovative stem cell therapy option is just what the doctor should have ordered.