There is a near-universal acceptance that air pollution, particularly that caused by vehicle emissions, causes lung damage and respiratory disease including lung cancer.
It is however, less well-known that such pollution also damages coronary arteries and the heart. Until now, this association has been somewhat controversial.
Much less controversial, though, after the publication of a paper in this week’s British Medical Journal (BMJ 2014;348:f7412
for the summary version).
Researchers followed up a very large number (>100,000) of healthy citizens from 11 European countries of differing latitudes, for >11years. All confounding factors such as age, smoking, sociodemographic factors, BMI, alcohol consumption, noise exposure and cholesterol were eliminated statistically.
The results very clearly show an association between long-term exposure to particulate air pollution and incidence of coronary events, even for exposure concentrations below the current European air quality limits.
Analysis of the results indicate that, if anything, there is an underestimation bias; in other words, the association is even stronger than the results indicate.