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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAlbany: Exposure to Fine Particulates Associated with Elevated Blood Pressure Levels

According to a recent report, long-term exposure to fine particulates or PM2.5 — airborne particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less — caused 4.2 million deaths around the world in 2015, making PM2.5 a global issue of concern for many public health researchers. UAlbany’s Dr. Michael S. Bloom and an international team recently studied fine particles in the air in China to assess how the size of particles might be related to hypertension and blood pressure; the resulting publication appears in the March 2019 Environmental Research.

The study utilized data from 24,845 randomly-chosen individuals aged 18-74 from 33 communities in China. Each participant’s blood pressure was taken and an estimate of their long-term exposure to PM1 — airborne particles with a diameter of 1 micrometer or less — and PM2.5 was generated using data from satellite remote sensing and ground level monitoring.

The research team found that the PM2.5 levels in all 33 communities were higher than the standard set by the World Health Organization. Both PM1 and PM2.5 were associated with elevated blood pressure levels and hypertension prevalence. However, the effects appeared to be attributable primarily to the smaller PM1. The associations were stronger for women, smokers, non-drinkers, those with lower income levels, and those who exercised more frequently.

With hypertension increasing the risk of heart attack and other serious health issues, further examination of PM and its impact is critical — particularly in China, where more than one-quarter of all deaths due to PM2.5 have taken place.