Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

'No Safe Level of Air Pollution': Major Study Links Cardiac Arrests With Fine Particulate Matter Exposure

Health + Wellness
'No Safe Level of Air Pollution': Major Study Links Cardiac Arrests With Fine Particulate Matter Exposure
A man wearing a protective mask sits on the lawn in front of the Australian Parliament house in Canberra, Australia on Jan. 1, 2020. The level of air pollution in Canberra is the highest in the world on some days. Daniiielc / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Researchers now say there is "no safe level" of air pollution exposure after a large-scale study found a correlation between exposure to fine particle matter, known as PM2.5, and cardiac arrests, according to the The Sydney Morning Herald.


The researchers found that exposure to PM2.5 that even fell below global standards was hazardous, suggesting that tighter regulations and cleaner energy is required, according to the study, which was published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

Scientists from the University of Sydney led the study, which analyzed air quality in Japan against 249,372 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. They concluded that even low-level exposure was associated with an increased risk of cardiac arrest for people over 65, as The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The researchers noticed that the risk of cardiac arrest grew by up to 4 percent for every increase of 10 units in the PM2.5 levels.

"Our study supports recent evidence that there is no safe level of air pollution — finding an increased risk of cardiac arrest despite air quality generally meeting the standards," said report author professor Kazuaki Negishi from the University of Sydney School of Medicine, as The Canberra Times reported.

Negishi pointed out that previous research into air pollution and acute cardiac events had been inconsistent, particularly at PM2.5 levels that met the World Health Organization guidelines. However, the large scale of this study meant that past inconsistencies could be addressed.

"Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is a major medical emergency – with less than one in 10 people worldwide surviving these events – and there has been increasing evidence of an association with the more acute air pollution, or fine particulate matter such as PM2.5," said Negishi in a University of Sydney statement. "We analyzed almost a quarter of a million cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and found a clear link with acute air pollution levels."

The findings are troubling for Australia, which has seen its usually pristine air plummet in quality due to the recent bushfires. In the study, more than 90 per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurred at levels below the Australian standard of 25 micrograms per cubic meter. Put another way, the air quality levels ranked as "fair," "good" or "very good" under Australian standards, as the The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The U.S. and Japanese standard is less strict at 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

Australia had a particularly awful year, with air quality in Canberra ranking as the worst in the world on Dec. 31. Sydney had 81 days of hazardous, very poor or poor air quality in 2019, which was more days of bad air than the last decade combined, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The researchers expect the worsening air quality will lead to more heart attack fatalities in Australia, especially among older people.

"Given the fact that there is a tendency towards worsening air pollution – from increasing numbers of cars as well as disasters such as bushfires – the impacts on cardiovascular events, in addition to respiratory diseases and lung cancer – must be taken into account in health care responses," said Negishi in a university statement.

Unfortunately, the researchers did not identify a threshold that is safe for exposure to PM2.5. Instead, Negishi said that existing standards should be reevaluated.

"It might not be a good idea to continue to seek [a new] threshold, but try to continuously improve our air quality. If a threshold exists, it should be very, very close to zero," Negishi said, as The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

By Michael Svoboda, Ph.D.

Despite a journey to this moment even more treacherous than expected, Americans now have a fresh opportunity to act, decisively, on climate change.

The authors of the many new books released in just the past few months (or scheduled to be published soon) seem to have anticipated this pivotal moment.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Marsh Creek in north-central California is the site of restoration project that will increase residents' access to their river. Amy Merrill

By Katy Neusteter

The Biden-Harris transition team identified COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as its top priorities. Rivers are the through-line linking all of them. The fact is, healthy rivers can no longer be separated into the "nice-to-have" column of environmental progress. Rivers and streams provide more than 60 percent of our drinking water — and a clear path toward public health, a strong economy, a more just society and greater resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A Brood X cicada in 2004. Pmjacoby / CC BY-SA 3.0

Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring.

Read More Show Less
A creative depiction of bigfoot in a forest. Nisian Hughes / Stone / Getty Images

Deep in the woods, a hairy, ape-like man is said to be living a quiet and secluded life. While some deny the creature's existence, others spend their lives trying to prove it.

Read More Show Less
President of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer holds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on Jan. 30, 2020. Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

By Jon Queally

Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, "To put it mildly, gas is over" — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades.

Read More Show Less