Air Pollution and Heart Attacks
Increasingly, investigators both in the United States and abroad have shown significant relationships between air pollutants and increased risk for heart attack and other forms of coronary heart disease.
- Models have demonstrated increases in heart attack hospitalization rates in relation to fine particles (PM2.5), particularly in sensitive sub-populations such as the elderly, patients with pre-existing heart disease, and particularly those who are survivors of heart attack or those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- An increase of 10 µg/m³ in PM2.5 was associated with a 4.5% elevation in risk of unstable angina (chest pain) and heart attack.
- Mortality statistics have been linked for a 16-year period to chronic exposure to multiple air pollutants in 500,000 adults who resided across all 50 states.
Remember: A heart attack can happen to anyone. We each must take the time to learn about the risk factors and take steps to reduce them.
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The following text describes Particulate Matter, PM2.5, and PM10 and is from the AIRNow Web site (http://airnow.gov).
Particulate Matter, PMParticle pollution, also known as particulate matter, in the air includes a mixture of solids and liquid droplets. Some particles are emitted directly; others are formed in the atmosphere when other pollutants react. Particles come in a wide range of sizes. Those particles 10 micrometers or smaller in diameter (PM10) are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Ten micrometers is smaller than the width of a single human hair.
PM2.5Fine particles are particles 2.5 micrometers or smaller in diameter. These particles are so small they can be detected only with an electron microscope. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes.
PM10Coarse dust particles are particles between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter. Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles traveling on roads.
Air Quality Index (AQI)According to the AIRNow Air Quality Index (AQI) Web site (AIRNow AQI: airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=static.aqi), "The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, the EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health. Ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in this country." The AQI has values ranging from 0, for good air quality and low levels of health concern, to 500, for hazardous air quality and high levels of health concern. The table below shows the color-coded AQI value ranges and what they indicate about local air quality and public health. (This table is from the AIRNow Air Quality Index Web site at http://airnow.gov/.)
Air Quality Index
Levels of Health
When the AQI
is in this range:
by this color:
See AIRNOW Air Quality Index (AQI) site: A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health (external site).
The AIRNOW AQI Guide was last updated September 3, 2010.
|0 to 50
||Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
|51 to 100
||Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
|101 to 150
||Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.
|151 to 200
||Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
|201 to 300
||Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.
|301 to 500
||Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
Heart Attack Risks (previous page)
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