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Welcome to the Energy & Environment (E&E) Exchange, a blog dedicated to science and engineering topics that are (generally) related to energy and the environment. This blog is meant to encourage discussion about the challenges and possibilities surrounding sustainability through science and technology. The blog's owner, cheme_wordsmithy, is a former technical writer and engineering editor at IEEE GlobalSpec, the company that powers CR4.

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Air Pollution Linked to Heart Disease

Posted June 02, 2016 7:00 AM by cheme_wordsmithy

It may seem obvious, but air pollution really does affect our health.

Many parts of the U.S. experienced some pretty hot days in the last couple weeks, and with it some warnings of ozone levels causing air quality concerns in metro areas like New York City and Long Island. This issue is a symptom of ambient air pollution that can have noticeable short-term health effects on people. It is also one reason I would tell my brother-in-law why I'm glad I'm not a city dweller.

But what about long-term exposure to lower levels of air pollutants, where the effects are harder to see?

Results from a study released May 24 show that exposure to even low levels of air pollution over time can affect cardiovascular health. The multi-ethnic study included 6,000 Americans monitored over a period of 10 years. CT scans were used to measure calcium deposits on the subjects' arteries over time, while ambient air samples were collected in their homes and neighborhoods and analyzed for concentrations of pollutants. The results, when analyzed, found a positive correlation between air pollution and accelerated atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which leads to heart attacks.

The ambient air data included concentrations of PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns), nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide (commonly referred to as NOx), and black carbon, all of which are common pollutants of concern found in ambient air. Models for pollution exposure were generated from thousands of sample collection points, state and federal data, traffic volumes, land use, weather, and nearby air pollution sources. PM2.5 and NOx and were found to have the strongest effects on heart health, the study found.

Much work has been done to prove the links between air pollution exposure and human health, but this study by the University of Washington is likely the most extensive ever done regarding heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. The scope of this study is impressive, almost as impressive as the magnitude of the implications it has. The data implies that the technology used to keep our air clean, from emission controls in cars to air pollution systems in industry, really is important. It implies that improving air quality will improve the quality of life for us and generations to come.

And to a much lesser extent, it gives me one more piece of ammunition in the city vs. country debate with my brother-in-law.

Source:

NewsBeat - UW Health Sciences

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Re: Air Pollution Linked to Heart Disease

11/17/2016 7:49 AM

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