Air Pollution and health
– Its effect on High Blood Pressure
For those of us who live in cities with high air pollution, or work around diesel fueled engines, this study should capture our attention as did the subject of noise pollution and health.
In Håkan Törnqvist`s discussion at Umeå University on June 5 about diesel exhaust and it`s connection with negative health effects of air pollution on the cardiovascular system, and please note: above all in high traffic environments, he mentions something of interest in the results of a controlled environment test where healthy subjects were exposed to about 300 µg/m3 of diesel exhaust and filtered air for 1 hour.
Included in his results were findings that should make us sit up and take notice.
Exposures to diesel exhaust could be contributing to high blood pressure because the tests revealed, among other factors, the decrease of blood-vessel functions; the dilating and contracting of blood vessels and the body`s natural ability to dissolve blood clots.
Further study in this particular area found that even 24 hours after exposure, the blood vessel`s capacity to expand was affected, and signs of systemic inflammation was reveled through an increase in inflammatory markers in the blood.
This dissertation was to clarify previously unknown mechanisms that showed how repeated exposure to polluted air can cause heart attacks, stroke and increased mortality, but it served also to show how living in polluted cities or exposure to treatment options for high blood pressure in other areas can have an effect on blood vessel ability to dilate and contract and that inflammation is present.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, researchers carried out a test on 46 male traffic controllers with an average age of 39.2 years. The results showed a significant change in systolic blood pressure, measuring an increase of 6.0 HHmg, and diastolic blood pressure increased by 3.4 HHmg, and 3.7 HHmg with 24 hour monitoring. The results were taken after consideration of the men`s body mass index, age, temperature and humidity.
These figures are high and there is so much more evidence pointing to air pollution as a big contributor. That`s why there was so much fuss about Beijing air quality being reduced in time for the Olympic games.
The solution for us all? Move to the country side if you can! Seriously! Only a reduction of pollutants will be the answer. We may not have much control over where we live, but we can have a measure of control over the air we breath at least in our homes. Try and filter it if possible and keep windows and doors closed during the rush hours.
Particulate Matter (PM) Air Pollution and Health
High levels of particulate matter in the air can lead to cardiovascular disease. The latest update that follows has added weight to some of the information I have written on this page.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released their findings showing that there is enough clinical evidence pointing to the possible impact of air pollution in various body mechanisms.The report shows clearly that in some instances what we breath in can have a higher consequential impact on the cardiovascular system than pulmonary diseases or at the least, equal them. This is alarming news!
There is also a scientific statement about this report by the American Heart Association (AHA).
As I have discussed above, the constriction of blood vessels can be hampered, but the report shows that up to 4 pollutants have been linked to this negative impact. They are shown to to be high systemic inflammation markers, they can affect blood coagulation, and contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.