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Subclinical cardiovascular health benefits of interventions to reduce exposure to combustion-derived particulate air pollution

Occupational and environmental health
Posted August 22, 2011

Principal Investigator

Allen, R


Brauer, M
Carlsten, C
Van Eeden, S


CIHR $319,686




Each year ambient particulate matter (PM) air pollution is responsible for 800,000 premature deaths worldwide, or 1.2% of total global mortality, and the public health burden is substantial even in regions with relatively low pollution levels that meet air quality guidelines.  For example, each year in British Columbia (BC) PM causes up to 400 deaths, similar to the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents. In addition to the well established links with mortality, a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to PM also contributes to the development of a wide range of chronic morbidities.  The American Heart Association has identified PM exposure as a modifiable factor contributing to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.  This has important implications for public health in Canada given that air pollution exposure is ubiquitous, no safe exposure threshold has been idenfied, and circulatory diseases are the nation’s leading cause of death. To address knowledge gaps about health risks of specific pollution sources and to provide new evidence on the health benefits of air pollution interventions, the objectives of this proposed study are:

  1. To quantify the relationship between low-level exposures to combustion-derived PM air pollution and subclinical cardiovascular indicators;
  2. To evaluate and compare the potential for two exposure reduction strategies - HEPA filters and a woodstove exchange program - to reduce exposure and induce measurable improvements in cardiovascular health endpoints among healthy adult participants;
  3. To compare the impact of two major PM sources (traffic and residential wood combustion) on these endpoints.