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January 31, 2007

Particulates from coal and oil pollution increases heart disease in women

This study confirms what I and many others have been saying. Coal pollution is the top energy problem. It is killing a lot of people now and we need to use every other cleaner energy source including nuclear power to reduce the use of coal for power generation.

Various scientific sources and regular news sources likes Forbes are reporting on a study which clearly shows that particulates (from coal and fuel pollution)greatly increase the risk of heart disease in older women.

Here is a longer list of news coverage

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have found postmenopausal women living in U.S. cities and exposed to average levels of fine particulate matter pollution, or PM 2.5, were drastically more at risk for getting cardiovascular disease and dying from its complications.

The study, which will appear Feb. 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the largest study of its kind and the first to evaluate the effects of air pollution on new cases of cardiovascular disease in healthy subjects. It's also the first to examine local air-pollution levels within a city -- by taking data from several air-quality monitors in different neighborhoods of one city -- rather than comparing rates between cities, which is considered a less accurate measure.

The metropolitan areas tested in Kaufman and colleagues' study generally had average levels of PM pollution, from about 4 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter.

But with each increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter there was a 24-percent increase in the risk of a cardiovascular event among the study subjects and a 76-percent rise in the risk of death, the researchers found.

The researchers corrected for age, race, smoking status, educational level, household income and other markers that could skew the results.

PM can travel into the deepest areas of the lungs when inhaled, and exposure has been linked in past studies to several health conditions, from aggravated asthma to premature death in people with heart and lung disease, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The California Children's Health Study showed PM 2.5 exposure was linked to a slowing of lung growth in children, which compromised the lungs' long-term function. The research found both long-term and short-term exposure to fine particles is associated with sickness and death.

A follow-up to one major study, Harvard's Six Cities, suggested a reduction in PM 2.5 levels subsequently lowers a person's long-term risk of death.

Unlike earlier studies, it looked not just at deaths, but also at heart attacks, coronary disease, strokes and clogged arteries. These problems were 24 percent more likely with every 10-unit rise in particles. Almost 3 percent of the women suffered some kind of cardiovascular problem.

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