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Imaging study: air pollution impairs function of blood vessels in lungs

Air pollution impairs the function of blood vessels in the lungs, according to a study of more than 16,000 patients presented at EuroEcho-Imaging 2016. EuroEcho-Imaging is the annual meeting of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI), representing members around the world with an interest in all modalities of cardiovascular imaging.

The study examined the effect of air pollution on pulmonary haemodynamics (blood flow) in a population and in individuals. The population study assessed whether common levels of outdoor air pollution influence the echocardiography (ultrasound used to investigate the action of the hear) parameters conventionally used to evaluate the pulmonary circulation and right ventricular function.

Between 2009 and 2013, transthoracic echocardiography including an evaluation of pulmonary pressure was conducted in 16,295 individuals and correlated with average air pollution in Brussels on the same day and in the last five and ten days. The authors examined whether any patient subgroups were more susceptible to the effects of air pollution.

(A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is the most common type of echocardiogram. The ultrasonic transducer is placed on the chest or abdomen of the subject to get various views of the heart.)

The individual study examined the effect of air pollution on pulmonary circulation in ten healthy male volunteers exposed to pollutants in a chamber with standardized conditions. The volunteers were exposed to ambient air or dilute diesel exhaust with a PM2.5 concentration of 300 μg/m3 for two hours in a randomized, crossover study design. The effects on pulmonary vascular resistance were assessed with echocardiography at rest and during a cardiac stress test in which the drug dobutamine is given to simulate heart function during exercise.

The population study showed a negative effect of PM10, PM2.5 and ozone on pulmonary circulation on the same day and over five and ten days. Specifically, increases in these pollutants were associated with reduced pulmonary acceleration time and increased pulmonary acceleration slope. Increases in PM10 and PM2.5 over ten days were associated with worse right ventricle function. The negative impact of PM10 on pulmonary circulation was more pronounced in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (cessation of breathing that lasts 10 seconds or more).

Air pollution was associated with increased pulmonary vascular tone which makes it more difficult for blood to flow to the lungs. Longer exposure to air pollution exposure seems necessary to impair right ventricular systolic function. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea were at greater risk.

—lead author Dr Jean-Francois Argacha, a cardiologist at the University Hospital (UZ) Brussels, Belgium

The individual study showed that exposure to diesel exhaust did not modify the pulmonary circulation compared to ambient air when the volunteers were resting but did when dobutamine was administered. This suggests that pollution is more harmful to the lung circulation during exercise.

This is the first human study to report an influence of air pollution on pulmonary vascular function. Our dual approach provides original data on the impact of air pollution on the pulmonary circulation. The individual study strengthens the plausible link emerging from the epidemiological research. This is a major public health issue for people living in polluted urban areas where exercise could damage the lungs and potentially lead to decompensated heart failure.

Our main advice is to limit physical activities during heavy air pollution. More studies are needed before specific recommendations on intensity and duration of exercise can be given. Emission controls such as particulate filters have reduced tailpipe emissions, but other sources such as engine crankcases, tires and brake wear are becoming important. No strong evidence exists on effectiveness of face masks to eliminate or reduce particle exposure.

—Dr. Argacha




This is a no-brainer, as anyone who has looked at the pictures of the lungs of smokers knows. But to label C02 as a pollutant is a marxist ploy that has nothing to do with science.

Account Deleted

If we keep burning fossil fuels the CO2 that it is releases will lead to a drastically warmer planet that will kill off most species that we know. And it will all happen within the next 100 years. This is just a scientific fact noting Marxist about that.

What is Marxist is the US states that prevents Tesla from selling it cars through its own dealers. That is a direct attach on the right to do healthy business freely in an otherwise capitalist economy.

Brent Jatko

@ejj: Blah blah blah, Marxist blah blah blah.

Happy now, goofus?

You're almost as stupid as Gor, but not quite.


According to Trump Global Warming is a hoax perpetrated by China to harm American manufacturing. Who says stuff like that with no evidence?

William Stockwell

Global warming could be a blessing for some places- Russia, Canada, Greenland, Antarctica but it's going to suck for most of the world and my guess is we have already put in motion some positive feed-back loops that will start that suckitude a lot earlier than has been predicted- people who think it's a Marxist plot are just living in an alternate reality.



A: Trolls, many politicians who are only in the game for their ego, status and to line their pockets. Ditto some business persons.

The sad bit is the formula is a proven (populist) winner for the coffers of the spin doctors and Ad Men.

I can understand there is an unbearable imperative for the addicts to cheat lie and kill to have more drug, but it has always ended badly. In the case of CO2 the second hand smoke can permanently kill 90~% of existing life forms within the next hundred years, not just those close to us.
Oh yeah and Arsenic is essential for life in very small amounts.


An example*** of crowds - disappearing in a cloud of toxic smoke - cheering at the spectacle of burnouts, now common place after motor races.

"Emission controls such as particulate filters have reduced tailpipe emissions, but other sources such as engine crankcases,*** tires*** and brake wear are becoming important. No strong evidence exists on effectiveness of face masks to eliminate or reduce particle exposure."


If you don't believe in climate change, you surely cannot deny there is smog and smog kills. Hey,out there, smog is caused by burning hydrocarbons in the air. There are other cleaner,less-expensive ways to get around and to create power than using fossil fuels...We need to bypass Trump and the Republicans and change over to renewable. China gets it; Europe gets it while we stumble around held back by the greed and politics of carbon fuels.

Dr. Strange Love

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose ...

Cold outside. Nice to sit beside a warm fireplace. If I was a drinking man, I would have a shot of brandy.



Well put, it seems like RWNJs do everything they can to destroy the country for more profits.

Dr. Strange Love

Carbon neutral or better fuels. Reduced or zero carbon electricity.

Land Reclamation (reversible deserts). Riparian projects. Get school kids involved early.

Johnny Apple Seed.

Dr. Strange Love

Outlaw Electric Resistive cloths dryers. Get all automotive engineers developing useless apps to start work for GE, Whirlpool. Bosch to engineer a Ventless 7+ cu.ft. Heat Pump dryer that can compete.

This is worth more to saving the planet than any electric vehicle can do.


A common use, up-to-date Heat Pump, could supply hot water, enough heat to dry clothes and dishes, supply lower cost heating and air condition for the house and save enough e-energy for the family BEV and PHEV?

It will not be built for many years because initial price would be higher and people would be reluctant to switch or change.

Secondly, all e-energy suppliers would be against it because their sales would go down by 25% to 50%.

Dr. Strange Love

We also need more passive solar on the south, east and west sides of living structures while the north face has earth berm insulation for colder climates.


Sometime in the next 10 years or so, Russia and USA may become the largest producers of fossil fuels (coal, oil and NG).

Fossil energy producers, (in those two countries and others) may join hands to promote the ongoing use of those dirty polluting energies for e-energy production and in all transportation modes, where they are used at 99+% rate.

REs and NPPs promoters may have more competition than expected. Keeping global warning from rising less than 2C will be difficult if not impossible.

EU (excluding Russia and immediate neighbors) Japan and So-Korea may have to lead the world away from fossil fuels.

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