American College of Cardiology Issues Air Pollution Statement

According to a statement published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology(JACC), air pollution does contribute to cardiovascular disease, increasing the progression of atherosclerosis, and ruining the integrity of our blood vessels – in simple terms, the air we breathe promotes inflammation. According to the authors, “Inhalation of air pollutants affects heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, vascular tone, blood coagulability, and the progression of atherosclerosis. Major mechanisms of inhalation-mediated cardiovascular toxicity include activation of pro-inflammatory pathways and generation of reactive oxygen species.”

The authors write that there is no question that some of the population is more susceptible than others to the effects of poor air quality, but they cite exhaustive studies that simply mount up - “Air pollution is directly linked to the adverse cardiovascular outcomes in the general population, and effects are seen at levels at or below existing air quality standards.“ Who’s surprised? - Raise your hands.

Common environmental offenders listed include human and natural activities:

PM10, or coarse particles from humans:

• Road and agricultural dust
• Tire wear emission,
• Wood combustion
• Construction and demolition works
• Mining Operations

Natural Sources of PM10

• Windblown dust
• Wildfires

Fine particles (diameter <2.5 ┬Ám; PM2.5) that contribute to the demise of our air quality, include power plants, oil refinery and metal processing facilities, tailpipe and brake emissions from mobile sources, residential fuel combustion, and wildfires. UFP’s (ultra-fine particulates) come from tailpipe emissions from mobile sources such as motor vehicles, aircraft, and marine vessels.

According to a perspective statement from Melvyn Rubenfire, M.D., F.A.C.C., Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Health System Preventive Cardiology, “ Major examples of the consequences of gaseous exposure (ozone, sulfur oxide, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide) include the increased cardiovascular mortality in industrial regions and in truck drivers, who now have air filters in their cabin. The willingness of societies to tighten air pollution standards is closely related to the implication to their economies (e.g., Beijing, China).

The “state-of-the-art-paper" concludes, ”The major strategy in decreasing the harmful effects of air pollution is the reduction of air pollutants themselves. However, studying the epidemiology and the mechanisms of air pollution–related health effects (including cardiovascular toxicity) will possibly identify specific causal agents that can be better regulated and increase the effectiveness of our efforts to reduce the risk of developing air pollution–related health problems. Now that's beginning to sound a bit too much like acceptance to me. HEPA filter anyone?



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