Claim: Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults

Uh… no.

First, in the actual study, the researchers only conclude the following (note highlighted text):

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-4-14-25-pm

So their actual conclusion is a lot smaller than their headline. But even that is an obvious false claim.

If the little bit of PM2.5 inhaled from outdoor/indoor air damaged the blood vessels of health young men, what would massive amounts of PM2.5 do to sick, old men? Probably something serious, right? But consider the image, below.

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Believe it or not, there are many oxygen users who smoke. Despite that each cigarette delivers PM2.5 at a rate anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 times greater than breathing typical air, and that sick people are supposedly more vulnerable to the alleged effects of PM2.5 (according to EPA), smoking is not known to cause them any short-term harm.

The “results” of the new study just don’t jibe with the real world. That they don’t is not surprising considering that the lead researcher is C. Arden Pope, one of EPA’s main cheerleaders for the bogus notion that PM2.5 kills.

For more on PM2.5, read: “FACT SHEET: Particulate Matter in Indoor/Outdoor Air Does NOT Cause Death.”

The media release is below.

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Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults
American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report

AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION

DALLAS, Oct. 25, 2016 – Fine particulate matter air pollution may be associated with blood vessel damage and inflammation among young, healthy adults, according to new research in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal.

“These results substantially expand our understanding about how air pollution contributes to cardiovascular disease by showing that exposure is associated with a cascade of adverse effects,” said C. Arden Pope, Ph.D., study lead author and Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Air pollution is known to contribute to cardiovascular disease and related deaths. In 2004, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement, updated in 2010, warning of the risk and recommending that people talk to their doctor about avoiding exposure to air pollution specific to their area. What remained unclear, however, was how air pollution actually affects the blood vessels to increase the risk of disease.

For this study, investigators analyzed the component of air pollution known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — the tiny pieces of solid or liquid pollution emitted from motor vehicles, factories, power plants, fires, and smoking. They found that periodic exposure to fine particulate matter was associated with several abnormal changes in the blood that are markers for cardiovascular disease. As air pollution rose, they found:

small, micro-particles indicating cell injury and death significantly increased in number;
levels of proteins that inhibit blood vessel growth increased; and
proteins that signify blood-vessel inflammation also showed significant increases.
“These findings suggest that living in a polluted environment could promote the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke more pervasively and at an earlier stage than previously thought,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., study co-author and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. “Although we have known for some time that air pollution can trigger heart attacks or strokes in susceptible, high-risk individuals, the finding that it could also affect even seemingly healthy individuals suggests that increased levels of air pollution are of concern to all of us, not just the sick or the elderly.”

Study participants included 72 healthy, nonsmoking, adults in Provo, Utah. Their average age was 23, most were white, and more than half were male. During the winters of 2013, 2014, and 2015, participants provided blood samples, which researchers then tested for markers of cardiovascular disease. Due to the unique weather and geographical features of Provo, they were able to evaluate these informative blood markers with various levels of air pollution.

However, researchers noted that the third study year, 2015, was relatively unpolluted, which could have affected the results.

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Other co-authors are James P. McCracken, Ph.D.; Wesley Abplanalp, Ph.D.; Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D.; and Timothy O’Toole, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

4 thoughts on “Claim: Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults”

  1. Researchers discover root cause of blood vessel damage in diabetes

    A key mechanism that appears to contribute to blood vessel damage in people with diabetes has been identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

    Blood vessel problems are a common diabetes complication. Many of the nearly 26 million Americans with the disease face the prospect of amputations, heart attack, stroke and vision loss because of damaged vessels.

    Reporting in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Washington University researchers say studies in mice show that the damage appears to involve two enzymes, fatty acid synthase (FAS) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS), that interact in the cells that line blood vessel walls.

    “We already knew that in diabetes there’s a defect in the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels,” says first author Xiaochao Wei, PhD. “People with diabetes also have depressed levels of fatty acid synthase. But this is the first time we’ve been able to link those observations together.”
    https://source.wustl.edu/2011/01/researchers-discover-root-cause-of-blood-vessel-damage-in-diabetes/

  2. And how did the study compensate for the increased overall stress levels that are associated with the sort of urban living that would typically be encountered with these levels of fine particulate matter?
    Did they control of ~other~ factors that are already established as known to cause the sort of physiological changes described?
    Without the additional controls this is Scienceism, not actual Science.

  3. ‘Air pollution is known to contribute to cardiovascular disease and related deaths.’

    Begging the question fallacy.

  4. Headlines are often very misleading. Many have nothing whatever to do with the article. When you read the article and then look again at the headline, you say “HUH?”

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