Climate Change

Published on May 17th, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance

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Urban Air Pollution Increases Blood Pressure

There are many aspects of city life that are stressful.  From traffic to noise, urban residents encounter many situations each day that have the potential to raise their blood pressure.  Even if you live a calm, meditative municipal life, the very air you breathe is enough to raise your blood pressure, according to a new study.  Urban air pollution has been found to “influence the underlying processes, which lead to chronic cardiovascular diseases,” according to Dr. Barbara Hoffman of the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Photo by ninahale
Air pollution increases urban dweller's blood pressure

Air pollution increases urban dweller's blood pressure

Previous studies have found that air pollution is bad for infant health and responsible for 50,000 British deaths a year.  It also causes genetic changes in utero and increases the risk of asthma.  This new study found the source of pollution that increased urban dweller’s blood pressure ranged from car exhaust to factory fumes.  Researchers included other factors, such as “age, gender, smoking, weight and even local noise” in the data on 5000 people included in this ongoing study.  Live Science reports:

People who live in urban areas tend to have higher blood pressure, according to a new study that pins the blame on particulate air pollution…

High blood pressure increases the risk for atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, which leads to cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. Previous work had shown that daily increases in air pollution can raise blood pressure, but little was known about long-term effects.

“Our results might explain why people who live in more polluted areas are at a higher risk to suffer and die from these diseases,” Hoffman said.

Dr. Hoffman warns, “It is therefore necessary to further our attempts to prevent chronic exposure to high air pollution as much as possible.”   Only government intervention will bring about the necessary changes to protect city slicker’s from air pollution.  Unfortunately, the US Environmental Protection Agency has failed to protect public health in the past by “disregarding and misrepresenting recommendations from its staff scientists “regarding particulate matter”.



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