Air pollution, lung disease and heart disease

There is evidence to suggest that air pollution is a contributing factor in the aetiology of diseases afflicting the lungs and heart (Allen, Carlsten, Karlen, Leckie, van Eeden, Vedal, Wong & Brauer, 2011). One hypothetical mechanism reported is the relationship of air pollution particulate (fine particles & soot) to oxidative stress, systemic inflammation and endothelial (thin layer of cells lining interior surface of the blood vessels) dysfunction. Researchers from Simon Fraser University evaluated a community with high exposure to wood stove smoke (indoor air pollution) and tested the effects of air filtration on 45 healthy adults in a crossover study (Allen, Carlsten, Karlen, Leckie, van Eeden, Vedal, Wong & Brauer, 2011). Half of the participants were exposed to seven days of filtered air, with the other half subjected to installed air filtration without filters. During the second week of the study, participants were reversed, without them knowing whether the filters were in place. At the end of each period, the subjects were evaluated for arterial function, markers of inflammation (CRP and IL-6) and lipid peroxidation for oxidative stress.

The air filters reduced the indoor air particulates by 60 percent. The filtration led to a 9.4 percent improvement in arterial function and a 32 percent decrease in CRP levels. Lipid peroxides appeared unaffected by air filtration. The benefits were greatest in males, overweight participants and individuals with wood stoves in their homes.

Allen, R.W., Carlsten, C., Karlen, B., Leckie, S., van Eeden, S., Vedal, S., Wong, I. & Brauer, M. 2011. An air filter intervention study of endothelial function among healthy adults in a woodsmoke-impacted Community. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 183, 9, 1222-1230.

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