African Americans are at greater risk of heart disease because they are more exposed to air pollutants


New research showed that African Americans are more exposed to air pollution than whites, placing them at higher risk for heart disease and death.

Researchers led by University of Pittsburgh‘s Sebhat Erqou, M.D., combined data on fine particulate matter and black carbon in the air with those culled from a community-based study on 1,717 people (66 percent women, 45 percent African Americans, with an average age 59) in western Pennsylvania. Researchers analyzed the participants’ answers to questionnaires and results of yearly follow-up visits to check for heart-related hospitalizations, heart attacks, and related diseases.

Researchers found a link between exposure to fine particulate matter in the air and higher blood glucose levels, decreased blood vessel function, cardiovascular disease, and death from all causes. Additional findings revealed that compared to whites, African Americans were more exposed to black carbon air pollutants. They had a 45 percent higher chances of developing cardiovascular problems and dying from any cause.

Most people who live in highly-polluted places have no choice but to stay put in the area because that’s where they make a living, Thus, they can’t avoid breathing dirty air from vehicle exhausts or coal-fired power plants. Pollutants can easily enter the bloodstream and cause heart and lung disease. The scary part is, these diseases have claimed the lives of millions around the world. (Related: Study finds air pollution is more likely to make you sick than inherited risk factors (genetics).)

Can’t leave your polluted neighborhood for economic reasons? Here’s how you can work around the problem without burning a hole in your pocket.

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  • Install indoor air pollution sensors — These low-cost, high-accuracy sensors which measure air quality are hot items these days.
  • Get an air purifier, and keep it clean — It’s a good idea to turn off your air purifiers now and then to air out your home. Choose a day when pollution level is low.
  • Use wearable technology — This lets you check your exposure to pollution.
  • Reduce indoor pollution — Clean or wash dust collectors like old cushions, drapes, throw pillows and upholstered furniture. Take note that air quality in your home sometimes bears no correlation with what is going outside. Many factors can affect the quality of indoor air, from cooking to burning incense.
  • Wear a respirator — Respirator masks are equipped with a filter that keeps contaminated air from getting into your mouth or nose.
  • Exercise at off-peak hours — Avoid inhaling polluted air during peak hours when pollution from vehicles and other sources are extra high. It’s best to exercise either early morning or later in the evening.

You can’t escape pollution. But you can learn how to deal with it. That’s a challenge worth taking, especially when you live in heavily-polluted surroundings. Read Pollution.news for more news coverage.

Sources include:

ScienceDaily.com

Citylab.com



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