Wood smoke pollutants linked to cardiovascular disease

Discussion on health consequences of air particulates

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Wood smoke pollutants linked to cardiovascular disease

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:38 am

Wood smoke pollutants linked to cardiovascular disease
Last updated: 26 August 2014 at 8am PST

Air pollution not only leads to regional climate change in certain parts of the world, but also it is a major health risk factor. Now, a new study suggests that black carbon pollutants from wood smoke may increase cardiovascular disease in women.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was led by Prof. Jill Baumgartner of McGill University's Institute for the Health and Social Policy in Canada.

China in particular has air pollution that exceeds health guidelines, say the authors. Industrial emissions, motor vehicles and household use of biomass and coal fuels contribute to the excessive particulate matter in the atmosphere there.

Nearly 50% of Chinese homes use biomass and coal fuels for daily cooking and heating; as such, Prof. Baumgartner and her colleagues studied the effects of black carbon pollutants on women cooking with traditional wood stoves by measuring the daily exposure to air pollutants in 280 women from China's rural Yunnan province.

"China's unprecedented economic growth is fuelling massive increases in industrial and motor vehicle pollution," says Baumgartner, "and 700 million Chinese homes still cook with wood and coal fuels."

Though the Chinese government has set new air quality targets, Baumgartner says she and her team "wanted to identify the pollution sources that most impact human health to help inform these pollution control efforts."

Exposure to black carbon pollution affected blood pressure

To investigate, the team had the study participants wear air samplers that collected small particulate matter, which has been linked to adverse health effects. The researchers then analyzed the samples to identify the different pollutant types.

Additionally, the team measured the women's blood pressure, salt intake, physical activity, body mass index (BMI) and proximity to highways.

Baumgartner and her team found that black carbon pollutant exposure had the biggest impact on the women's blood pressure, which has a major effect on cardiovascular risk.

"Black carbon from wood burning is considered very important for climate warming," explains Baumgartner. "Our research shows that it may also be an important pollutant for health."

The team also found that the women who lived close to highways and who were exposed to both wood smoke and traffic emissions had blood pressure that was three times higher than those who lived further away from highways.

Commenting on their findings, Baumgartner says:

"We found that black carbon from wood smoke negatively affects cardiovascular health, and that the health effects of wood smoke are exacerbated by co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions. Policies that decrease combustion pollution by replacing inefficient wood stoves and reducing traffic pollution will likely benefit both climate and public health."

Written by Marie Ellis

• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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