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Exposure to Air Pollution May Affect Pulmonary Circulation

Larger peripheral total pulmonary vascular volume associated with long-term exposure to black carbon

FRIDAY, June 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Long-term black carbon exposure is associated with a larger peripheral total pulmonary vascular volume measured on noncontrast chest computed tomography (TPVVCT), according to a study published in the June 1 issue of the European Respiratory Journal.

Carrie P. Aaron, M.D., from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues examined whether long-term ambient air pollution exposure is associated with differences in pulmonary vascular volumes. Personalized long-term exposures to ambient black carbon, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), oxides of nitrogen, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and ozone were estimated. TPVVCT was measured; to isolate smaller vessels, peripheral TPVVCT was limited to the peripheral 2 cm. Data were included for 3,023 participants; 46 percent were never smokers.

The researchers found that the mean peripheral TPVVCT was 79.2 ± 18.2 cm³ and mean TPVVCT was 129.3 ± 35.1 cm³. Larger peripheral TPVVCT was seen in association with greater black carbon exposure, including after adjustment for city (mean difference, 0.41 cm³ per interquartile range). Similar associations were seen for peripheral TPVVCT with NO2, but these associations were not significant after city adjustment; the correlations for PM2.5 were of similar magnitude but after adjustment were not significant.

“Our findings suggest that long-term exposure to black carbon may impact the pulmonary circulation,” Aaron said in a statement. “No previous research has looked specifically at whether these changes in humans lead to disease, so we cannot say for certain how this may be affecting health.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical and health care industries.

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