Indexed on: 22 Aug '06Published on: 22 Aug '06Published in: Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Since the London fog of 1952, in which more than 4000 people were killed in 4 days, the combined efforts of scientists from several disciplines, including those from the environmental health, clinical and biomedical disciplines, have raised serious concerns about the impact of air pollutants on human health. These environmental pollutants are rapidly being recognized as important and independent risk factors for several diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease and stroke. Although the relative effects of particulate matter air pollution (aerodynamic diameter <10 microm, or PM(10)) are greater for respiratory than for cardiovascular deaths, the number of deaths attributable to PM(10) is much larger for cardiovascular than for respiratory reasons due to the higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the general population. This review summarizes current understanding of the mechanisms underlying the associations between PM(10) exposure and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.