Researchers at Ohio State University found that exposure to the four most common air pollutants in busy cities, ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, contributed to increased blood pressure in rats predisposed to high blood pressure. Two groups of hypertensive rats were examined in the study. One group was exposed to environmental pollutants over a 10 week period and one group was not. At week 9, Angiotensin II, the hormone responsible for increasing blood pressure in humans was introduced into each chamber (the chamber with rats who had and hadn’t been exposed to the pollutants). The rats who had been breathing polluted air showed a marked increase in blood pressure while the rats breathing relatively clean air showed no increase. The level of pollutants used was equivalent to that experienced by a New York City commuter.
This study was funded by the National Institute of Health and researched by scientists from the EPA, Ohio State University, the New York University School of Medicine, the University of Michigan and the Institute of Statistical Science. Given the EPA’s involvement, new guidelines for maximum emmissions may be introduced, letting us all breathe a little easier.
The full press release can be found at the Ohio State University website.