High risk of heart attack due to fine dust

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Heart attack risk from particulate matter already rises below the limit

According to a current study, the heart attack risk of the population due to particulate matter increases already below the limit set by the EU. This was reported by researchers in the "British Medical Journal". For the study, the data of more than 100,000 people from Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Italy were evaluated over a period of eleven and a half years. The researchers found that 5,157 study participants with a heart attack or unstable angina pectoris, which is characterized by severe sudden chest pain, had to be given medical care.

Heart attack risk increases due to particulate matter pollution. Unstable angina pectoris is the simplest form of acute coronary syndrome. It is associated with a high risk of heart attack. In order to be able to establish a relationship, the scientists compared the fine dust concentrations on site with those affected with the occurrence of heart problems. The fine dust consisting of the smallest particles settles in the lungs. It penetrates the alveoli and can cause serious damage to health.

Particulate matter is generated both naturally, such as during rock erosion, forest fires or volcanic eruptions, as well as from exhaust fumes from cars and factories. Scientifically, two types of fine dust particles are distinguished, which are classified based on their diameter.

Scientifically proven health risk of fine dust The researchers were able to determine that with an annual increase in the type PM 2.5 fine dust particles of only five micrograms per cubic meter of air, the risk of angina pectoris or a heart attack increases by up to 12 percent. With PM 10 particulate matter, a 13 percent higher risk of heart problems was observed with an increase of ten micrograms per cubic meter of air.

The World Health Organization (WHO) comes to the conclusion that the serious health effects are associated with the increase in particulate matter emissions in metropolitan areas and this leads to reduced life expectancy. In order to obtain as reliable data as possible, the scientists also included other risk factors of the study participants, such as whether they suffered from other diseases or whether they smoked, in the study.

"Our results show that particulate matter pollution is a significant health risk - and a greater one than previously thought," Annette Peters from the Institute for Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Center Munich, who was involved in the study, told the AFP news agency. "The damage to health is particularly alarming below the prescribed limit values. The study therefore supports the calls to lower these limit values."

Another study confirms results on the health impact of particulate matter The current results of the study coincide with the findings that researchers published a few weeks ago in the specialist magazine "Lancet". They found the same health effects of particulate matter pollution under the EU guidelines.

The measurement data determined by the individual federal states show that the fine dust limit values ​​are exceeded in numerous inner cities. According to the Federal Environment Agency, daily averages of 50 micrograms per cubic meter are not uncommon. However, the limit values ​​in force in the EU are 25 micrograms per cubic meter and the WHO even recommends only limit values ​​of a maximum of 10 micrograms per cubic meter. EU-wide legislation permits a maximum of 35 such exceedances per year. Everyone can do something to reduce the burden, for example by forming car pools or using more public transport. Short distances can be covered quickly by bike or on foot. This is not only good for the environment, but also prevents various cardiovascular diseases. (fr)

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