Study: Long-term high ozone levels can damage the heart and circulation.
(07/22/2010) Due to the persistent heat, the ozone values, especially in the cities, repeatedly reach peak values. People who are sensitive to it often suffer from headaches, dry coughs, sore throats and dizziness. If the high ozone levels persist, the heart and circulation can also be damaged.
Scientists at the US College of Pharmacy in Kingsville have found out from a study that long-term high levels of ozone can have negative effects on human health. Since it is not possible for researchers to subdivide symptomatic complaints according to causes such as heat, pollution and ozone, only laboratory tests can help to differentiate the symptoms according to cause. In the course of the study, the researchers exposed rats to ozone concentrations of eight hours a day for several weeks. The result: in the rats' hearts, greatly increased levels of a signaling substance were found that are associated with inflammatory processes and the death of cells.
Ozone is an important part of our earth. It protects the earth's atmosphere from harmful UV rays from the sun. The ozone forms is located at a height of 15 to 50 kilometers. But in summer so-called "ground-level ozone" is formed, which is formed by knitting oxides. Ground-level ozone can be harmful to health, depending on how high the ozone levels are. Children and the elderly in particular suffer from dizziness, headaches and shortness of breath when warning and limit values are reached. Values from 180 µg / m3 are considered to be hazardous to health. The general alert threshold for all people is 240 micrograms per cubic meter of air. In the last few days, at least the warning values of 180 µg / m3 were repeatedly reached in some regions.
During the investigations, the researchers divided a total of 40 rats into four groups of equal size. The first group was exposed to an ozone concentration of 0.8 ppm for 8 hours a day for 28 days. The second group was exposed to an ozone concentration of 0.8 ppm under the same conditions for a total of 56 days. The two other groups served as so-called "control groups" and were exposed to normal air for eight hours, 28 and 56 days respectively.
On the basis of the investigation it could be established that the animals, which were exposed to an increased ozone concentration for 28 and 56 days, had significantly increased values of the so-called tumor necrosis factor alpha in the heart. These values indicate inflammation of the heart. If this factor occurs for a longer period of time, a decrease in the protein "caveolin-1" can be observed. The protein "Caveolin-1" protects the heart by rendering messenger substances harmless, which force cells to die. These results have shown that permanent high levels of ozone exposure can also damage the heart in humans.
But how can you protect yourself? Children should not play unnecessarily in the hot midday sun at high temperatures. Exhausting activities such as gardening or sports should be postponed to the morning or evening hours, as the heat subsiding also reduces ozone pollution. Current values of ozone pollution can be read on the internet on the websites of the state health ministries. (sb)
Health: Ozone levels continue to rise
Increased ozone levels endanger health
Heat: Drink enough in summer
Sunscreen does not protect against skin cancer
Image: Klaus Steves / pixelio.de.