The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released a new study yesterday that links certain components of ultrafine particle air pollution to heart disease. The study was overseen by Dr. Michael T. Kleinman of the University of California Irvine and funded by ARB.
The results of the study are relevant to those living in Bakersfield and Kern County as the San Joaquin Valley has some of the worst air pollution in the nation. The Valley's air does not meet federal nor state ambient air quality standards for particulate pollution having a diameter less than 2.5 microns. The study looked at particles even tinier - having diameters of 0.18 microns or smaller - that are about 300 times as small as the width of a human hair.
Numerous previous studies (see also the related video link on this page) have demonstrated the links between small particle air pollution and adverse health effects. This study was unique in that it looked at the effects of the organic versus inorganic components of such particles.
In the study, the researchers removed organic chemical compounds from particles that came primarily from internal-combustion engine exhaust and from chemical reactions in the air. Using laboratory mice, they discovered that those exposed to either fully intact particles or just the organic components developed atherosclerotic plaques more rapidly than those exposed to particles without the organics. Atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries, a factor contributing to heart attacks.
The intact particles also had other negative effects on heart health.
Reducing particulate matter air pollution is one of California’s highest public health priorities. The ARB estimates that its Diesel Risk Reduction Plan will reduce diesel particulate matter emissions and associated cancer risk 85 percent by 2020, compared to 2000 levels. Additional reductions will occur from its Advanced Clean Cars program.
The full report may be found here: Particle pollution study