Heart Disease, Not Respiratory Illness, Is Main Danger from Air Pollution

Air pollution may actually be worse for your heart than for your lungs, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. A 16-year study found that long-term exposure to particulate matter in polluted air is more likely to cause death from cardiovascular disease than from respiratory ailments. “It’s very different from what we thought previously,” said Brigham Young University professor and epidemiologist Arden Pope, the study’s lead author. Small particle pollution — emitted by automobiles, factories, and coal-fired power plants — can contribute to a variety of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, the study found.