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PM2.5 pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young non-smoking adults

Fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) may be associated with blood vessel damage and inflammation among young, healthy adults, according to new research in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal.

Air pollution is known to contribute to cardiovascular disease and related deaths. In 2004, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement, updated in 2010, warning of the risk and recommending that people talk to their doctor about avoiding exposure to air pollution specific to their area. What remained unclear, however, was how air pollution actually affects the blood vessels to increase the risk of disease.

These results substantially expand our understanding about how air pollution contributes to cardiovascular disease by showing that exposure is associated with a cascade of adverse effects.

—C. Arden Pope, Ph.D., lead author, Brigham Young University

For this study, investigators collected blood from healthy, non-smoking, young adults over three study periods that included episodes of elevated PM2.5 levels. The researchers found that periodic exposure to fine particulate matter was associated with several abnormal changes in the blood that are markers for cardiovascular disease. As air pollution rose, they found:

  • small, micro-particles indicating cell injury and death significantly increased in number;

  • levels of proteins that inhibit blood vessel growth increased; and

  • proteins that signify blood-vessel inflammation also showed significant increases.

Episodic PM2.5 exposures are associated with increased endothelial cell apoptosis, an anti-angiogenic plasma profile, and elevated levels of circulating monocytes, and T, but not B, lymphocytes. These changes could contribute to the pathogenic sequelae of atherogenesis and acute coronary events.

—Pope et al.

These findings suggest that living in a polluted environment could promote the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke more pervasively and at an earlier stage than previously thought. Although we have known for some time that air pollution can trigger heart attacks or strokes in susceptible, high-risk individuals, the finding that it could also affect even seemingly healthy individuals suggests that increased levels of air pollution are of concern to all of us, not just the sick or the elderly.

—Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., co-author, University of Louisville

Study participants included 72 healthy, non-smoking, adults in Provo, Utah. Their average age was 23, most were white, and more than half were male. During the winters of 2013, 2014, and 2015, participants provided blood samples, which researchers then tested for markers of cardiovascular disease. Due to the unique weather and geographical features of Provo, they were able to evaluate these informative blood markers with various levels of air pollution.

The researchers noted that the third study year, 2015, was relatively unpolluted, which could have affected the results.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.


  • C A Pope, Aruni Bhatnagar, James McCracken, Wesley T Abplanalp, Daniel J Conklin and Timothy E O’Toole (2016) “Exposure to Fine Particulate Air Pollution Is Associated with Endothelial Injury and Systemic Inflammation” Circulation Research doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.309279



And the same younger affected people keep driving dirty ICE V-8s heavy cars and pick-ups. Much like shooting yourself in the foot?


Oh. My. God. You mean it's not a good idea to run around in a couple billion cars burning poison liquids and spewing poison gas into the air we breathe???? NO WAY!

Next you'll tell me that smoking is bad for you too!


And half the American public still thinks climate change is a hoax. LMMFAO!!!!!


DaveD, I quite look forward to these stories now and your latest satirical musings on the pollution industry!

It does seem rather obvious that forcing your way through a toxic cloud every day is not a good thing to do health-wise. Being an Aussie, I've been to Tasmania a few times, which supposedly has the cleanest air in the inhabited world, but you shouldn't have to go that far to find unpolluted air to breathe.

Dr. Strange Love

Humans/Cavemen have been breathing dirty air forever (e.g. the family hearth). Why don't you outlaw campfires. No more campfire smores for the Kids.

Let us stop all the Hypocrisy. We will Outlaw long distance power transmission from Non-Renewable power sources . All 10 ZEV CARB states must immediately implement a development plan to build Power generation using the latest CHP/etc technology using a Hub and Spoke transmission model. The center of Los Angeles, San Francisco, .... will now have Non-Renweable power/heat generation stations centrally located. The law will state that it is illegal to transmit Dirty Power more than 5 miles from the Hub.

Electric Vehicles will be prohibited from Charging from Non-Renewable sources. All Non-Renewably Fueled Vehicles will be banned.

There will be No more Talk of ZEV, Dirty Air, Dirty anything if ZEV states continue the Purchase of power from 100s of miles away. Hypocritical diatribe will be outlawed from now on.


We make improvements while we can when we can, expediency and profit override common sense at times.


Where we live, power and communication cables are all underground but we still have those fancy light poles on the streets and exterior parkings (with higher efficiency LEDs).

Part of the new Canada-USA cross border HVDC electric power lines will be underground and/or underwater to reduce optical pollution.

Underground HVDC lines are a lot saver and acceptable than Oil & NG pipelines and rails used to transport fossil fuels. They (HVDC lines) should be mandated everywhere. End users could easily pay for the extra cost over 20+ years or so.

We have been poisoning ourselves for too long.

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