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Effects of air pollution on the human heart
The ever increasing air pollution triggers health problems and diseases. The effects appear to be particularly bad in our cities. Researchers have now found that the hearts of young city dwellers contain billions of toxic air pollution particles.
The University of Lancaster's latest study found that the hearts of young people in cities contain billions of harmful air pollution particles. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Environmental Research".
Relationship between polluted air and heart disease
Even the youngest participant, three years old, found damage to the cells of the heart due to tiny particles of air pollution. The researchers assume that these particles, which are emitted by vehicles and industry, could be the cause of the long-known statistical relationship between polluted air and heart diseases. The authors report that exposure to nanoparticles could pose a serious public health problem and that there is an urgent need to reduce air pollution.
All age groups are affected
As early as 2016, the researchers found that the same nanoparticles were present in the human brain and can be linked to Alzheimer's-like damage. The statistical connection with air pollution was also known for this disease. All ages are affected by the negative effects of air pollution, but especially the effects on children are worrying, the authors explain. Evidence of early onset damage to both the heart and brain was found in young people.
Air pollution can lead to diabetes and miscarriages
A recent comprehensive report concluded that air pollution can harm every organ and virtually every cell in the human body if tiny particles are inhaled, get into the bloodstream, and travel through the body. Damage triggered can range from diabetes to reduced intelligence to increased miscarriages. The new research is the first direct evidence that iron-rich nanoparticles can cause heart disease. It was already known from laboratory tests that tiny particles seriously damage human cells. When an abundance of iron-rich nanoparticles penetrate directly into the subcellular components of the heart muscle tissue, the particles damage the so-called mitochondria - the energy power plants of the cells.
Air pollution needs to be reduced
Further efforts are required to reduce particulate emissions from vehicles, particularly to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. For example, people should be increasingly encouraged to walk short distances on foot or by bike.
Cardiac tissue from 63 young people was examined
The study analyzed the heart tissue of 63 young people who had died in traffic accidents but who had not suffered chest trauma. These people had an average age of 25 years and came from Mexico City, where it is known that there is high air pollution. During the investigation, the number of existing iron-rich nanoparticles was calculated and their position within the tissue and the associated damage were analyzed. The number of particles found ranged from 2bn to 22bn per gram of dried tissue, and their presence was two to ten times higher among the residents of Mexico City than among nine controls who had lived in less polluted places.
Particles are likely to contain other toxic compounds
The researchers reported that exposure to nanoparticles appears to be directly linked to early and significant heart damage. The results are relevant for all countries, because there is absolutely no reason to assume that the effects would be different in other cities with high air pollution, the authors add. The technique used to locate the nanoparticles in the heart tissue could not be used to measure their exact composition. Instead, the researchers separated the particles from the tissue to determine their composition and magnetic content, then used the average size and magnetism of the particles to estimate the total number. Based on previous research, it can be assumed that the particles are likely to contain additional toxic contaminants. (as)
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Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, Angélica González-Maciel, Partha S.Mukherjee, Rafael Reynoso-Robles, BeatrizPérez-Guilléc et al .: Combustion- and friction-derived magnetic air pollution nanoparticles in human hearts, in Environmental Research (query: 13.07.2019 ), Environmental Research