Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 03:04 pm

Being exposed to a few hours of ambient ultrafine particles, like traffic air pollution, has the potential to trigger a non-fatal heart attack…

This is according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

What are ultrafine particles?

Ultrafine particles (UFP) are 100 nanometers or smaller in size. In urban areas, automobile emissions are the primary source of UFP.

“This study confirms something that has long been suspected – air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease. This is particularly true within the first few hours of exposure,” says Kai Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health and the study’s first author. “Elevated levels of UFP are a serious public health concern.”

UFP constitute a health risk due to their small size, large surface areas per unit of mass, and their ability to penetrate the cells and get into the blood system.

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The study included nearly 6 000 people

With colleagues from Helmholtz Center Munich, Augsburg University Hospital and Nördlingen Hospital, Chen examined data from a registry of all non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI) cases in Augsburg, Germany.

Myocardial infarction is a major form of cardiovascular disease worldwide.

The study looked at more than 5 898 non-fatal heart attack patients between 2005 and 2015. The individual heart attacks were compared against air pollution UFP data on the hour of the heart attack and adjusted for a range of additional factors, such as the day of the week, long-term time trend and socioeconomic status.

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Source: Yale School of Public Health via

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