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Hypoxia city

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Science  13 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6458, pp. 1098-1103
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6458.1098

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Summary

Earlier this year, an international group of scientists traveled to La Rinconada, Peru, the highest human settlement in the world, for a study on chronic mountain sickness (CMS). La Rinconada sits in the Andes at an elevation of 5100 meters, where the air contains half as much oxygen as at sea level. As many as one in four residents may have CMS, a chronic affliction whose hallmark characteristic is a proliferation of red blood cells and that can cause symptoms such as breathlessness, headaches, ringing ears, sleep problems, palpitations, as well as heart failure and death. The lack of oxygen is just one of many hardships in the town, which also suffers from pollution, a lack of drinking water and sanitation, alcohol abuse, and violence.

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