Pollution of PM2.5 (particles of 2.5 microns or less in diameter) in the air, even at the mildest levels accepted as “healthy”, increases the risk of heart attacks, according to an Australian study released Tuesday .
“Our study supports recent evidence that there are no safe levels of air pollution – by identifying an increased risk of heart attack even when air quality is within the (pollution) standards,” Kazuaki said in a statement. Negishi, one of the authors of the study.
The researchers said that even PM2.5 levels below the limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are potentially dangerous, especially for the older population, after studying more than 249,000 cases of heart attack in Japan in relationship with brief exposures to pollution.
Negishi, from the University of Sydney in Australia, said that only 10 percent of those affected survive a heart attack outside the hospital and called it “urgent” for governments to improve air quality, as it is a global issue.
“Since there are no borders on air quality between countries, it is necessary to find a global plan to address this crucial health problem,” added the cardiologist and researcher.
Negishi said there are no “devastating” consequences for young and healthy people who are exposed to PM2.5 for short periods, although their research does not address longer-term effects.
The study, published in the journal “The Lancet Planetary Health”, indicates that the risk of heart attack increases between 1 and 4 percent with each increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter (µg / m3) of PM2.5, even at short term.
The researchers found that the risk also exists at levels below 25 µg / m3, the limit set by the WHO as healthy.
PM2.5 particles, mainly from motor vehicles, factories and fires, are not visible to the human eye and easily reach the lungs and blood supply, increasing the risk of respiratory, heart and cancer problems.
Australia, mainly in the southeast of the country, has suffered in recent months high levels of air pollution due to forest fires, while pollution also affects many Asian countries such as China, India, Bangladesh or Thailand.
The study was conducted in Japan due to the large amount of official information available on pollution and infarction cases, as well as the good average air quality in the country.
The research has had experts, in addition to the University of Sydney, the Australian universities of Tasmania, Monash and the Center for Rural Health, as well as the University of Gunma in Japan.