Study shows diesel fumes’ link to heart, lung diseases

June 9th, 2008 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 9 (IANS) The adverse effects of diesel fumes on health, especially for individuals who already have lung or heart disease, have been proven anew by a recent study. The study, by researchers at Umea University, looked at the effect of diesel exhaust on healthy individuals and those having chronic obstructive lung (COL) disease and coronary disease with coronary artery atherosclerosis.

Diesel exhaust comprises particles so tiny that 10,000 of them can fit in a single millimetre. They can have lethally harmful health effects, the study found.

The study used controlled exposure to try to clarify mechanisms explaining why such particulates cause increased morbidity in both lung and heart disease patients.

Individuals were exposed for one hour to, respectively, diesel exhaust with a particulate concentration of about 300 microgrammes per cubic metre and filtered air. The two exposures were in random order, so the individuals served as their own controls.

The dissertation studied whether exposure to diesel exhaust would lead to a deterioration of the lung function and increased inflammation of the airways as measured by induced sputum (coughing samples) in patients with moderately severe but stable COL.

The study established that 24 hours after their exposure to exhaust, the capacity of their blood vessels to expand was disturbed. There were also signs of systemic inflammation.

The most important finding, however, was that after exposure to diesel exhaust, participants evinced signs that were consistent with a shortage of oxygen in the heart muscle.

It shows that diesel exhaust cause a rapid deterioration of the function of blood vessels that persists as long as 24 hours after exposure.

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