September 15, 2009
Air Pollution Raises Blood Pressure

The quality of the air you breathe plays a role in determining whether you get high blood pressure.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Its well known that measures such as exercise, a healthy diet and not smoking can help reduce high blood pressure, but researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have determined the very air we breathe can be an invisible catalyst to heart disease. Inhaling air pollution over just two hours caused a significant increase in diastolic blood pressure, the lower number on blood pressure readings, according to new U-M research.

People placed in air similar to that near an urban roadway experienced higher blood pressure. This is, parenthetically, an argument against doing long commutes in urban environments. The air you breathe in your car is bad for your health.

Eighty-three people in Ann Arbor and Toronto were involved in testing and breathed air pollution, concentrated by a mobile air quality research facility, that was similar to what would be found in an urban environment near a roadway.

We looked at their blood vessels and then their responses before and after breathing high levels of air pollution, explains Robert Bard, M.S., co-author and clinical research manager at U-M.

Ozone gases, a well-known component of air pollution, were not the biggest culprit. Rather, small microscopic particles about a 10th of the diameter of a human hair caused the rise in blood pressure and impaired blood vessel function, tests showed. The blood pressure increase was rapid and occurred within 2 hours, while the impairment in blood vessel function occurred later but lasted as long as 24 hours.

I'd like to know more about indoor air pollution and background air pollution for those who do not necessarily live near a highway. Would a home HEPA filter deliver real health benefits for most people? If you live in a city or near a busy street or freeway the argument for filtering one's air is more compelling.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 September 15 09:28 PM  Health Pollution Harm

Guillaume Theoret said at September 16, 2009 6:33 AM:

I'd like to know what the air quality is like in the metro. I take the subway to work and you recently posted about how tunnels have much greater air pollution. I wonder whether I'm exposing myself to worse on my ride to work than if I were driving a car.

David Govett said at September 16, 2009 5:55 PM:

Constant worrying about blood pressure raises blood pressure. Ya wanna live forever?

David said at September 16, 2009 8:00 PM:

Yet another indication of the dangers of fine particulates.

Randall Parker said at September 16, 2009 9:10 PM:


I wonder whether particulates come down into subways from above and settle.

David Govett,

I want to live youthfully for as long as I can.


Agreed. Cancer and cardiovascular problems. Likely more asthma and other respiratory problems as well. Avoid particulate pollution.

tommyvee said at September 17, 2009 11:12 AM:

Increasing evidence of the serious health impacts of fine particulates will slow the adoption of diesel vehicles in the US (including biodiesel), because diesel has inherently higher particulate emissions.

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright