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Air Pollution’s Toll on Heart May Begin Early

New research that followed healthy young volunteers over three consecutive winters shows that air pollution can take a real toll on your heart, even when you’re healthy and young, as reported by The New York Times. The study found “consistent relationships between levels of air pollution and damage to cells in the endothelium, the inner lining of the blood vessels … [and] as pollution levels rose, so did blood levels of cytokines, chemical messengers that are another indicator of inflammation [all of which] contribute to cardiovascular disease,” the Times said.

Since 92 percent of the world’s population breathes polluted air, this should be a clarion call to clean up the air everywhere. Data suggests the majority of outdoor air pollution sources are from inefficient transportation vehicles, industrial activities, coal-powered plants and burning of household fuel and waste.

Indoor air pollution — which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says can be between two and five times higher inside than they are outside, and even up to 100 times higher, depending on the air exchange in your home — is also a concern.

The good news is that proactive measures can pay off. For example, a number of cities around the world have tackled environmental pollution head on, and the effects are readily observable. In one Brazilian city, improvements in waste recycling, public transport and pedestrian walkways has led to lower air pollution, and longer life expectancy.

To improve the air quality in your home, vacuum regularly, avoid aerosol air fresheners, open a few windows for five to 10 minutes each day, and use a high-quality air purifier such as those using photo catalytic oxidation.
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