Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 02:08 pm

High levels of traffic exhaust pollution around your home could increase your stroke risk, even in generally low-pollution environments…

This is according to a study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and other universities in Sweden.

Black carbon is the problem

The study suggests that it is mainly black carbon from traffic exhaust that increases the risk for stroke and not particulate matter from other sources.

Black carbon is the sooty black material emitted from gas and diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and other fuels.

In city environments, the emissions come mainly from road traffic. These particles have previously been linked to negative health effects, especially in studies of heavily polluted environments.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Now researchers have shown that long-term exposure to traffic exhaust at residential addresses increases the risk of stroke in Swedish towns.

“This study identifies local traffic exhaust as a risk factor of stroke, a common disease with great human suffering, high mortality and significant costs to society,” says Petter Ljungman, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet and the study’s main author. “We see that these emissions have consequences even in low-pollution environments like Swedish cities.”

Study spanned 20 years and followed 115 000 people

The researchers followed almost 115 000 middle-aged healthy individuals living in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Umeå over a period of 20 years.

During this time, some 3 100 of the people suffered a stroke.

With the help of dispersion models and Swedish emission inventories, the researchers were able to estimate how much different local emission sources, including from traffic exhaust, road wear and residential heating, contributed to particulate matter and black carbon at specific addresses in these cities.

The researchers found that for every 0.3 micrograms per cubic meter (?g/m3) of black carbon from traffic exhaust, the risk of stroke increased by four percent.

Source: Karolinska Institutet via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.