Exposures to fine particulate matter air pollution is associated with an increase in ventricular arrhythmias in healthy teens, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“Ventricular arrhythmias are abnormal heartbeats that originate in your lower heart chambers, called ventricles,” Stanford Health Care explained. “These types of arrhythmias cause your heart to beat too fast, which prevents oxygen-rich blood from circulating to the brain and body and may result in cardiac arrest.”
Specifically, the study measured the impact of air pollution that is made up of “tiny particles or droplets in the air that are [2.5] microns or less in width,” as described by the New York State Department of Health.
“We analyzed the data collected from 322 adolescents who participated in the PSCC (Penn State Child Cohort) follow‐up examination,” said study authors.
According to the study findings, the “adverse health effect,” of fine particulate matter on potential cardiac arrhythmia as observed in a low‐risk population in an environment with “concentrations well below the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency–mandated, health‐based air quality standards,” is significant.
“Although pending confirmation, such an acute impact of particulate air pollution on ventricular arrhythmias during adolescence may increase the risk of [sudden cardiac death] during early adulthood,” said the study.
Already, fine particulate matter has been linked with conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease. It is generated by a variety of sources that include vehicle exhaust; burning wood, oil, and coal; tobacco smoking; fireplaces; forest fires; power plants and volcanic eruptions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides some tools for people interested in avoiding particulate matter pollution.