A 2005 study in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) showed that long term exposure to air pollution can raise the risk of heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease. In addition to other well known risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, tobacco use- air pollution has joined the list. The smaller the air pollution particle the worse the risk according to the study. The mechanisms appears to be due to increased oxidation via the production of inceased reactive oxygen.
Apparaently, traffic related air pollution sources are among the most dangerous. The study was done primarily in rats but the mechanism of action likely affects humans the same way. In the study, intravascular inflammation and increased vasomotor tone worsened, both predictors for heart disease. Carotid intimal thickening, a surrogate measurement for heart disease, also worsened.
The study went on to conclude that periods of short term exposure to particulate air, like that we are exposed to during rush hour, is enough to promote progression to atherosclerosis and eventually heart disease.
The EPA has also ranked indoor air pollution a serious problem. Where does this come from? Our furnitures, cleaning supplies, synthetic glues (i.e in carpet), radon, etc. can all contribute to indoor air pollution. In addition, most homes todays are designed with an air tight seal in order to be energy efficient. Unfortunately, this also allows indoor air pollution and chemicals to build up resulting in worsening of allergy and asthma symptoms. Discuss with your doctor if a HEPA filter could be beneficial to your allergies or asthma.
Source: The Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA Vol 294, No 23. Pages 2935-3048
My Recommendation- Obviously, avoid air pollution to the greatest extent possible. However, in the meantime, Auto Ionizers and indoor air purifiers may help minimize exposure to both indoor air pollution and outdoor pollution. Some quality brands of HEPA filters include Austin Air HEPA filters and Blue Air HEPA filters. Many new cars are now coming equipped with HEPA filtration and negative ionizers. www.eHealthSupplies.com has a variety of solutions for this problem. Also, open your windows to your home in order to allow fresh air in.