Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Air pollution’s impact on the heart is as bad as having been a smoker


In a follow-up analysis of the most extensive study of its kind on the long-term effects of air pollution on human health, researchers have found that people living in U.S. cities face an increased risk of dying from a heart attack as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution. This increased risk was found to be as large as that associated with being a former smoker. The new analysis is published as a study in the rapid access issue of the journal Circulation, published by the American Heart Association.

"It is clear that long-term exposure to the levels of air pollution that Americans are routinely exposed to is a significant contributor to ischemic heart disease," says George Thurston, Sc.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine at NYU School of Medicine, and one of the new study’s authors. "When we looked at the data, we observed that the increased risk of dying from some forms of heart disease among non-smokers living in polluted cities is roughly comparable to the increased risk caused by being a former smoker."

The new analysis is based on data collected by the American Cancer Society (ACS) on the cause of death of some 500,000 adults over a 16-year period from 1982 to 1998 and on data on pollution levels in cities nationwide. These data sets were also the basis for an earlier study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2002. The JAMA study showed that over many years, the danger of breathing soot-filled air in American cities significantly raised the risk of dying from lung cancer and heart disease, and the risk was comparable to the health risks of living with a smoker.

The new analysis by researchers George Thurston of New York University School of Medicine, and Arden Pope of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, (both Drs. Thurston and Pope were authors of the JAMA study), and by colleagues from other institutions, further categorized the cause of death in the group of 500,000 adults. They identified death from ischemic heart disease (i.e., heart failure resulting from decreased oxygen supply to the heart muscle), and death from other forms of heart disease, such as hypertension, and aortic aneurysms (bulges in the aorta). They also looked at diseases of the respiratory system that were listed as the primary cause of death on death certificates.

They found that long-term exposure to tiny particles of soot and dust, or PM2.5, was linked to a 31 percent increase in the risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, including fatal myocardial infarctions. This risk is comparable to the increased risk of dying of ischemic heart disease found by this study to be associated with being a former smoker (33 percent). The researchers based this calculation on an average mean of 17.1 micrograms of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) per cubic meter in the air of 51 metropolitan areas in the study across the nation. These metro areas include some 319,000 individuals who were part of the earlier study. They used this group because pollution data were available for these cities at both the start and end of the study, allowing the best characterization of long-term PM2.5 exposure in these cities.

Previous studies have linked chronic exposure to small particles in the air to death from heart disease and lung cancer. However, these earlier studies did not include such a large and well-characterized cohort of participants as the ACS cohort does. Consequently, the previous studies could not meaningfully investigate these sub-categories of mortality, such as ischemic heart disease, in order to evaluate the underlying mechanisms of causing deaths associated with air pollution. This study is the first to provide such insight into the origins of this association, and therefore the first also to allow detailed comparisons with other causes of cardiac death, such as smoking.

In addition to Drs. Thurston and Pope, the authors of the study are: Richard Burnett, Ph.D., an Daniel Krewski, Ph.D. of University of Ottawa; Michael Thun, and Eugenia Calle, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society; and John Godleski, M.D., of Harvard Medical School.

Pam McDonnell | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>