Eat right and exercise. That's the typical health advice we often hear but what we breathe into our bodies can have a profound effect on health too. Air pollution has been linked to respiratory illnesses, learning and memory problems, depression, and cardiovascular events.
Blood pressure has been found to be higher in people who live in more polluted areas. The senior author of a German study, said that living in areas with higher levels of particle air pollution has been associated with higher blood pressure. Another study conducted on inner city residents who showed no signs of heart disease were 80% more likely to develop coronary artery calcification, which can lead to heart disease, than were residents who lived in less polluted areas.
Even more evidence gathered by US researchers shows that higher concentrations of fine particulate air pollution were linked to a faster thickening of the common carotid artery, which is an indication of how much atherosclerosis is in other arteries of the body. Even more interesting is the fact that residents of the same metropolitan area had varying rates of artery thickening, according to the levels of fine particulate air pollution in their neighborhood.
The Houston Chronicle reported in August on mandated monitoring of air pollution along Houston freeways. Some local research revealed that the area along Interstate 45 corridor near downtown has increases in heart attacks and asthma episodes when smog levels rise.
Short of moving to the countryside, exercise and a healthy diet, including asparagus, may somewhat offset the risk of stiffened arteries and heart disease, from pollution but scientists have offered another simple tip. Face masks, especially those designed for occupational use, worn when outdoors, can reduce, although not eliminate, the amount of pollution particles breathed in.