Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and death, despite the income of the country, according to a global study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University.
For the study which was published in The Lancet Planetary Health Journal, the resarchers analysed 157,436 adults from 21 countries who were aged between 35 and 70 years old in 21 countries.
In the data’s 15-year period, in which each participant was analysed for roughly nine years each, 9,152 people had cardiovascular disease events, including 4,083 heart attacks and 4,139 strokes.
Factoring in the range of concentrations of PM2.5 across the globe, the researchers said that 14% of all cardiovascular events documented in the study can be attributed to PM2.5 exposure.
Overall, the researchers found that there was a 5% increase in all cardiovascular events for every 10μg/m3 increase in concentrations of PM2.5
The researchers worked with a set of cardiovascular disease risk factors, including individual variables like smoking status, eating habits and pre-existing cardiovascular disease.
Interestingly the researchers also found that the risks in low- and middle-income countries were mostly identical to the risks found in high-income countries and that even small reductions in air pollution levels can result in a reduction of disease risk.
Perry Hystad, an environmental epidemiologist in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences said: ‘If you reduce the concentration of outdoor air pollution, you’re going to see benefits for cardiovascular disease.
‘Before this study, we were not sure if this was the case. Some studies suggested that at high concentration, as seen in many developing countries, levels would have to be reduced by very large amounts before health benefits would occur.
‘What I hope — and this is actually what is happening — is that developing countries can take these lessons and apply them and reduce the time it takes to achieve some of these air pollution reduction successes.
Maybe instead of 30 years, you can do it in 10 years.’
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