[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]
E-M:/ actually...it may be this study
- Subject: E-M:/ actually...it may be this study
- From: "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 15:59:08 -0500
- Delivered-to: email@example.com
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-to: "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <email@example.com>
the ABC news piece tonight might actually be on this...
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 5 PM EASTERN (2 PM PACIFIC),
Women living in areas with higher levels of air pollution have a greater
risk of developing cardiovascular disease and subsequently dying from
cardiovascular causes, according to a University of Washington study
appearing in the Feb. 1 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The
study is one of the largest of its kind, involving more than 65,000
Women's Health Initiative Observational Study participants, age 50 to 79,
living in 36 cities across the United States.
UW researchers studied women who did not initially have cardiovascular
disease, following them for up to nine years to see who went on to have a
heart attack, stroke, or coronary bypass surgery, or died from
cardiovascular causes. They linked this health information with the
average outdoor air pollution levels near each woman's home, and found
that higher pollution levels posed a significant hazard ? much higher
than previously thought ? for development of cardiovascular
The researchers studied levels of fine particulate matter, which are tiny
airborne particles of soot or dust, and can come from a variety of
sources, like vehicle exhaust, coal-fired power plants, industrial
sources, and wood-burning fireplaces. These particles are less than 2.5
microns in diameter -- about 30 to 40 of them would equal the diameter of
a human hair. Particulate matter levels are monitored and regulated by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They're typically
invisible to the human eye once they're in the atmosphere, though they
may be visible in dense clouds as they come out of a tailpipe, smokestack
or chimney, and are responsible for urban haze.
"These soot particles, which are typically created by fossil-fuel
combustion in vehicles and power plants, can contain a complex mix of
chemicals," explained Dr. Joel Kaufman, professor of environmental
& occupational health sciences, epidemiology, and medicine at the UW,
and leader of the study. "The tiny particles ? and the pollutant
gases that travel along with them ? cause harmful effects once they are
Fine particulate matter is measured in micrograms (or millionths of a
gram) per cubic meter; cities in the study had average levels of fine
particulate matter ranging from about 4 to nearly 20 micrograms per cubic
meter. The researchers found that each 10-unit increase in fine
particulate matter level was linked to a 76 percent increase in the risk
of death from cardiovascular disease, after taking into account known
risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking. Higher
long-term average levels of fine particulate matter also led to a higher
overall risk of cardiovascular disease events, including stroke and heart
They also found that local differences in particulate matter levels
within a city, as well as exposure differences between cities, translate
to a higher or lower risk of cardiovascular disease and related
"Our findings show that both what city a woman lived in, and where
she lived in that city, affected her exposure level and her disease
risk," said Kristin Miller, first author of the study and a doctoral
student in epidemiology at the UW.
Previous studies have found apparent links between airborne particulate
matter and cardiovascular disease, but this study was the first to look
specifically at new cases of cardiovascular disease in previously healthy
subjects and local air pollution levels within metropolitan areas.
Researchers used data from the multi-site Women's Health Initiative
Observational Study, which is funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood
Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and coordinated
through a center based at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in
Seattle. The EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences provided funding for the study of the effects of air
Scientists don't understand exactly how fine particulate matter may be
leading to cardiovascular disease, but some believe that the soot
particles are accelerating atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,
which is the major precursor of heart disease.
"This could be a cellular and biochemical process that starts in the
lung and then proceeds from there into the cardiovascular system,"
Kaufman explained. "Or it could be that these very small particles
actually enter the blood stream through vessels in the lung, and then
begin affecting blood vessels throughout the body."
Kaufman is leading a major new EPA-funded study to uncover these
mechanisms ? an air-pollution study based on the NIH's Multi-Ethnic Study
of Atherosclerosis, or MESA. The MESA Air Pollution Study tackles two key
areas for understanding this problem, Kaufman said: investigating the
mechanisms through which particulate matter leads to cardiovascular
disease, and identifying the sources of pollution that cause the problem.
"Preventing these effects requires reducing the pollution at the
source," Kaufman said.
The implications of this connection could be very significant.
"More than one out of three deaths in the United States are due to
cardiovascular disease ? it's the leading cause of death," Miller
said. "If the annual average concentration of fine particulate
air pollution can be reduced, it would potentially translate on a
national scale to the prevention or delay of thousands and thousands of
heart attacks, strokes, and bypass surgeries, not to mention fewer early
An editorial from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and
Brigham and Women's Hospital will accompany the study in the Feb. 1 issue
of the journal. In that editorial, the authors suggest public health
interventions to address this problem, as well as a tightening of the EPA
standards regulating fine particulate matter pollution.
In addition to Kaufman and Miller, the study included researchers
from the UW School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and
Community Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and
Harborview Medical Center, all in Seattle.
NOTE: To determine the average annual concentration of fine
particulate matter for a particular city or county, visit the EPA's Air
Trends Web site and look for "PM 2.5 Wtd AM" in the tables
provided. The most recent data available from the EPA is from 2005.
Alex J. Sagady & Associates
Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Expert Witness Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
657 Spartan Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); firstname.lastname@example.org