An international team of researchers, coordinated by the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, set out to study the effect of long term exposure to airborne pollutants on acute coronary events in 11 groups participating in the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE).

The study involved over 100,000 people with no history of heart disease enrolled from 1997 to 2007 and followed for an average of 11.5 years. After taking account of several other risk factors, including other illness, smoking and socioeconomic factors, the researchers found that a 5 g/m3 increase in PM 2.5 levels (fine respirable particles) was associated with a 13 percent increased risk of coronary events and a 10 g/m3 increase in PM10 particulate matter was associated with a 12 percent increased risk of coronary events.

A total of 5,157 participants experienced coronary events during the follow-up period, said the study published on on the website of British Medical Journal.

"Our study suggests an association between long-term exposure to particulate matter and incidence of coronary events," said the authors.


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