New Research


June 17, 2017

Research Paper of the Month

The subjects in this study were children, teenagers, and young adults in Mexico City where the particulate pollution is still quite high, despite many public policy changes to address it.   This is the second study to show that these tiny pollution nanoparticles from fossil fuel combustion end up inside our brains.  Once there they can cause brain damage, disrupting cellular and intracellular architecture.  This undoubtedly contributes to the many clinical studies that show impaired brain function, loss of memory, loss of intellectual abilities, behavior problems, and more degenerative brain diseases in people exposed to more air pollution.

We should be just as concerned about the air our children breathe as we are about lead in the water they drink.

González-Maciel A, Reynoso-Robles R, Torres-Jardón R, Mukherjee PS, Calderón-Garcidueñas L. Combustion-Derived Nanoparticles in Key Brain Target Cells and Organelles in Young Urbanites: Culprit Hidden in Plain Sight in Alzheimer’s Disease Development. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017 Jun 3. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170012. [Epub ahead of print]

This study shows that heart function is impaired with air pollution.

Yang WY, et al. Left ventricular function in relation to chronic residential air pollution in a general population.  Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2017 Jan 1:2047487317715109. doi: 10.1177/2047487317715109. [Epub ahead of print]

Good review on the broad based health consequences of ozone.   Think of it as slightly less toxic than particulate pollution.

Nuvolone D, Petri D, Voller F. The effects of ozone on human health. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 May 25. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-9239-3. [Epub ahead of print]

Numerous studies are showing a strong connection between pollution and type II diabetes.  This study of newborns showed an increase in insulin levels, measured from cord blood, with more particulate pollution exposure.  Specifically, for every 2.4 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5, insulin levels increased 13%.  This suggests that pollution in utero can set the stage for type II diabetes later in life.

Madhloum N, et al. Cord plasma insulin and in utero exposure to ambient air pollution. Environ Int. 2017 May 22. pii: S0160-4120(16)30886-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.05.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Air pollution can adversely affect heart rhythm.

Carll AP, et al. Inhaled ambient-level traffic-derived particulates decrease cardiac vagal influence and baroreflexes and increase arrhythmia in a rat model of metabolic syndrome. Part Fibre Toxicol. 2017 May 25;14(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s12989-017-0196-2.

Air pollution found to reduce survival after diagnosis of liver cancer

Deng H, et al. Particulate matter air pollution and liver cancer survival. Int J Cancer. 2017 Jun 7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30779. [Epub ahead of print]

Two more studies showing a relationship between air pollution and breast cancer.

Goldberg MS, et al. The association between the incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer and concentrations at street-level of nitrogen dioxide and ultrafine particles. Environ Res. 2017 Jun 5;158:7-15. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.05.038. [Epub ahead of print]

Large C, Wei Y.  Geographic variations in female breast cancer incidence in relation to ambient air emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.  Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 Jun 14. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-9395-5. [Epub ahead of print]  

Ozone is associated with increased rates of hospitalizations for heart attacks.

Chiu HF, Weng YH, Chiu YW, Yang CY. Short-Term Effects of Ozone Air Pollution on Hospital Admissions for Myocardial Infarction: A Time-Stratified Case-Crossover Study in Taipei. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2017 Jun 9:1-7. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2017.1321092. [Epub ahead of print]

Yet another study showing increased incidence of premature birth with air pollution.  The evidence is now overwhelming.

Liu C, et al. Different exposure levels of fine particulate matter and preterm birth: a meta-analysis based on cohort studies. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 Jun 15. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-9363-0. [Epub ahead of print]

Short term air pollution decreases lung function in healthy adults.

Panis L, Provost EB, Cox B, Louwies T, Laeremans M, Standaert A, Dons E, Holmstock L, Nawrot T, De Boever P.  Short-term air pollution exposure decreases lung function: a repeated measures study in healthy adults. Environ Health. 2017 Jun 14;16(1):60. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0271-z.

May 27, 2017

Research Paper of the Month

This paper gives us new insight into how particulate pollution causes vascular dysfunction, leading to such things heart attacks and strokes.  Inhaled nanoparticles were found to accumulate in the lining of blood vessels at sites of existing  inflammation and atherosclerosis, aggravating that disease process.  The particles appeared in the blood and urine of human subjects within as little as 15 minutes, and were still present three months later.

Miller MR, et al. Inhaled Nanoparticles Accumulate at Sites of Vascular Disease. ACS Nano. 2017 Apr 26. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.6b08551. [Epub ahead of print]

Telomeres are repeating sequences of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that keep the chromosomes from unraveling.  Every time the cell divides it loses some telomere length.  Telomere length is closely associated with longevity.  Previous studies have shown air pollution is associated with shorter placental and fetal telomere length.  This study shows that in children and adolescents, air pollution exposure is associated with reduced telomere length, and that means reduced life expectancy.

Eunice Y. Lee, Jue Lin, Elizabeth M. Noth, S. Katharine Hammond, Kari C. Nadeau, Ellen A. Eisen, John R. Balmes. Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Telomere Length in Children and Adolescents Living in Fresno, CA. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2017; 59 (5): 446 DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000996  

As the connection between air pollution and neurodegenerative diseases steadily grows, this is one we didn’t anticipate–air pollution aggravating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Lee H, Myung W, Kim DK, Kim SE, Kim CT, Kim H. Short-term air pollution exposure aggravates Parkinson’s disease in a population-based cohort. Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 16;7:44741. doi: 10.1038/srep44741.

Another study showing that air pollution impairs the vascular architecture of the placenta.

Hettfleisch, K, et al. Short-Term Exposure to Urban Air Pollution and Influences on Placental Vascularization Indexes. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP300

Evidence of air pollution’s adverse effect on pregnancy is now overwhelming.  In this study particulate pollution was associated with a decrease in fetal thyroid hormone (TSH) and decreased.

Janssen BG, et al. Fetal Thyroid Function, Birth Weight, and in Utero Exposure to Fine Particle Air Pollution: A Birth Cohort Study. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP508

Another study showing the connection between air pollution and another pregnancy complication–gestational hypertension.

Zhu Y, et al. Ambient air pollution and risk of gestational hypertension. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 May 4. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx097. [Epub ahead of print]

Two more studies showing air pollution damages DNA by altering “epigenetics,” the chemical bath that chromosomes sit in.

Lai CH, et al. Exposure to fine particulate matter causes oxidative and methylated DNA damage in young adults: A longitudinal study. Sci Total Environ. 2017 Apr 23;598:289-296. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.04.079. [Epub ahead of print]

Ding R, et al. Dose- and time- effect responses of DNA methylation and histone H3K9 acetylation changes induced by traffic-related air pollution. Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 3;7:43737. doi: 10.1038/srep43737.

Another study showing air pollution impairs our mental health, i.e.  is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Pun VC, et al. Association of Ambient Air Pollution with Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms in Older Adults: Results from the NSHAP Study. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP494

March 7, 2017

Air pollution accelerates brain aging, increases the deposition of amyloid beta particles in the brain, and can almost double the risk of Alzheimer’s in elderly women.  Put another way, air pollution appears to be responsible for 20% of Alzheimer’s.  A critical Alzheimer risk gene, magnifies the risk further, especially in women, and interacts with air pollution to accelerate brain aging.

Cacciottolo M, et al. Particulate air pollutants, APOE alleles and their contributions to cognitive impairment in older women and to amyloidogenesis in experimental models. Translational Psychiatry (2017) 7, e1022; doi:10.1038/tp.2016.280 Published online 31 January 2017

Feb. 27, 2017

Research paper of the month


This study suggests that the real culprit in particulate air pollution’s adverse effect on pregnancy outcomes is PAHs which are often attached to air pollution particles, rather than the particles themselves.  More evidence that not all air pollution is created equal, and we should be paying much more attention to those sources that create high levels of PAH pollution–wood smoke, and industrial pollution.

Jedrychowski WA, Majewska R, Spengler JD, Camann D, Roen EL, Perera FP. Prenatal exposure to fine particles and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and birth outcomes: a two-pollutant approach. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2017 Feb 7. doi: 10.1007/s00420-016-1192-9. [Epub ahead of print]

The most toxic type of particulate pollution is the ultrafine category, i.e. less than 0.1 micron is size. Ultrafine pollution exposure is associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and increased rates of inflammatory bowel disease. This study reveals a likely mechanism. Ultrafines can be inhaled or ingested. This study shows that ingested ultrafine pollution altered the microbial make up of the bowel, and increased atherogenic lipid metabolites.

Li R, et al. Ambient Ultrafine Particle Ingestion Alters Gut Microbiota in Association with Increased Atherogenic Lipid Metabolites. Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 17;7:42906. doi: 10.1038/srep42906.

Outdoor air pollution has been linked to 2.7 million preterm births per year, 18% of all pre-term births.

Christopher S. Malley, Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, Harry W. Vallack, Daven K. Henze, Hannah Blencowe, Mike R. Ashmore. Preterm birth associated with maternal fine particulate matter exposure: A global, regional and national assessment. Environment International, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.01.023

The closer you live to a major traffic corridor, the greater your chance of developing dementia.  More evidence of the neurotoxicity of air pollution.

Chen H, et al. Living near major roads and the incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis: a population-based cohort study. Published: 04 January 2017 DOI:

Another cancer associated with air pollution—liver cancer.

Pedersen M, et al. Ambient air pollution and primary liver cancer incidence in four European cohorts within the ESCAPE project. Environ Res. 2017 Jan 17;154:226-233. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.01.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Research paper of the month

TT collapse

The 9/11 dust cloud from the collapse of the Twin Towers in 2001, was shown to be associated with significantly higher rates of premature birth and low birth wt in the babies of pregnant women in Manhattan, nearest the site.   The study’s authors stated, “the impacts are especially pronounced for fetuses exposed in the first trimester, and for male fetuses. We estimate that in this group, exposure to the dust cloud more than doubled the probability of premature delivery and had similarly large effects on the probability of low birth weight.”   This is more evidence that even short term air pollution exposure can affect the developing fetus, and therefore life long health.

Currie J, et al. The 9/11 Dust Cloud and Pregnancy Outcomes: A Reconsideration
The Journal of Human Resources 51(4):805-831, DOI: 10.3368/jhr.51.4.0714-6533R

More research confirming the connection between air pollution and poor birth outcomes.

Balsa UI, et al. Exposures to Particulate Matter from the Eruptions of the Puyehue Volcano and Birth Outcomes in Montevideo. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP235

Exposure to NOx pollution had a significant association with the incidence of a serious pregnancy complication, placental abruption.

Michikawa T, et al. Air Pollutant Exposure within a Few Days of Delivery and Placental Abruption in Japan.  Epidemiology. 2016 Dec 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Here is another study showing that air pollution during pregnancy precipitates the chemical markers of inflammation, a prelude to chronic disease vulnerability later in life for those babies.

Martens DS, et al. Neonatal Cord Blood Oxylipins and Exposure to Particulate Matter in the Early-Life Environment: An ENVIRONAGE Birth Cohort Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Nov 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Changes in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can serve as a marker of cumulative oxidative stress.  Increased PM2.5 during the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with decreased mtDNA content suggesting heightened sensitivity to this kind biological damage in a fetus.

Rosa MJ, et al. Identifying sensitive windows for prenatal particulate air pollution exposure and mitochondrial DNA content in cord blood. Environ Int. 2016 Nov 11. pii: S0160-4120(16)30741-3. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.11.007. [Epub ahead of print]

UPHE is adamantly opposed to the proposed project to dam the Bear River, reducing the flow to the Great Salt Lake, shrinking the lake, exposing thousands more acres of dry beach, and increasing the severity of dust storms.  This study shows that dust storms in North America, like other forms of air pollution, increase mortality within a matter of days.

Crooks JL, et al. The Association between Dust Storms and Daily Non-Accidental Mortality in the United States, 1993–2005. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP216

Numerous studies solidify the connection between air pollution and diabetes and impaired glucose metabolism.

Peng C, et al. Particulate Air Pollution and Fasting Blood Glucose in Nondiabetic Individuals: Associations and Epigenetic Mediation in the Normative Aging Study, 2000–2011. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP183

Lu MC, et al. Association of temporal distribution of fine particulate matter with glucose homeostasis during pregnancy in women of Chiayi City, Taiwan. Environ Res. 2016 Oct 13;152:81-87. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.09.023. [Epub ahead of print

Toledo-Corral CM, et al. Effects of air pollution exposure on glucose metabolism in Los Angeles minority children.  Pediatr Obes. 2016 Dec 6. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12188. [Epub ahead of print]

Wallwork RS, Colicino E, Zhong J, Kloog I, Coull BA, Vokonas P, Schwartz JD, Baccarelli AA. Ambient Fine Particulate Matter, Outdoor Temperature, and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome. Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Dec 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Ozone was associated with increased rates of hospitalization for dementia in a population in Spain.

Linares C, et al. Short-term association between environmental factors and hospital admissions due to dementia in Madrid. Environ Res. 2016 Oct 27;152:214-220. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.10.020. [Epub ahead of print]

Air pollution’s association with cognitive decline is now well established.  This study shows that among older people who also experience socioeconomic stress and disadvantage, that association is even stronger.

Ailshire J, Karraker A, Clarke P. Neighborhood social stressors, fine particulate matter air pollution, and cognitive function among older U.S. adults. Soc Sci Med. 2016 Nov 14;172:56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.11.019. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence that PM 2.5 air pollution is associated with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs), as well as an increased relative risk for juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Sun G, et al. Association between Air Pollution and the Development of Rheumatic Disease: A Systematic Review. Int J Rheumatol. 2016;2016:5356307. Epub 2016 Oct 25.

This study shows that ultra fine particulate pollution can affect development of the fetal brain by changing the expression of neuroprotective genes on nerve cells.
Solaimani P, Saffari A, Sioutas C, Bondy SC, Campbell A. Exposure to ambient ultrafine particulate matter alters the expression of genes in primary human neurons. Neurotoxicology. 2016 Nov 13. pii: S0161-813X(16)30225-X. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2016.11.001. [Epub ahead of print]

More research showing the connection between environmental factors, air pollution in particular, and autism.   Autism genes are affected by environmental pollutants.

Morales-Suárez-Varela M, et al. Systematic review of the association between particulate matter exposure and autism spectrum disorders. Environ Res. 2016 Dec 13;153:150-160. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.11.022. [Epub ahead of print]
Carter CJ, et al. Autism genes are selectively targeted by environmental pollutants including pesticides, heavy metals, bisphenol A, phthalates and many others in food, cosmetics or household products. Neurochem Int. 2016 Oct 27. pii: S0197-0186(16)30197-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2016.10.011. [Epub ahead of print]

Children exposed to more traffic pollution short term, score worse on tests of ability to pay attention.

Sunyer J, et al. Traffic-related air pollution and attention in primary school children: short-term association.  Epidemiology. 2016 Nov 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Some of the first research showing that air pollution reduces kidney function, even at levels significantly below the national EPA standards.

Raaschou-Nielsen O, et al. Outdoor air pollution and risk for kidney parenchyma cancer in 14 European cohorts. Int J Cancer. 2016 Dec 22. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30587. [Epub ahead of print]

This study shows that for the signature outcome of air pollution exposure, a heart attack, the event is likely to be more immediate in older age groups, and more delayed in younger patients.  Nonetheless, younger patients are still sensitive to the cardiovascular effects of air pollution.

Collart P, et al. Short-term effects of air pollution on hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction: age effect on lag pattern. Int J Environ Health Res. 2017 Feb;27(1):68-81. doi: 10.1080/09603123.2016.1268678.

Another study showing that exposure to particulate matter is associated with the thickness of atherosclerosis in the body’s arteries.

Aguilera I, et al. Particulate Matter and Subclinical Atherosclerosis: Associations between Different Particle Sizes and Sources with Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in the SAPALDIA Study. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP161

This is intuitively obvious, but this study shows higher rates of exacerbations of COPD with more air pollution.

Li J, et al. Major air pollutants and risk of COPD exacerbations: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2016 Dec 12;11:3079-3091. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S122282. eCollection 2016.


Research paper of the month

Oct. 30, 2016

Air pollution has been classified as a “Class I carcinogen” by the World Health Organization.  There has been a steady increase in the incidence of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) over the past several decades, and other research implicates air pollution as a trigger for leukemia.   This study showed that compared to healthy children, those who had AML had significantly higher levels of “particulate matter derived nanoparticles” aggregated with blood components.  This demonstrates a plausible mechanism by which air pollution could trigger AML.

Visani G, et al. Environmental nanoparticles are significantly over-expressed in acute myeloid leukemia.  Leuk Res. 2016 Nov;50:50-56.

For every 10 ug/m3 of PM2.5, the risk of intrauterine inflammation (IUI) increased 240%.  IUI contributes to, or is a mechanism for, multiple types of pregnancy complications.

Nachman R, et al. Intrauterine Inflammation and Maternal Exposure to Ambient PM2.5 during Preconception and Specific Periods of Pregnancy: The Boston Birth Cohort. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP243

This study shows that a 2.1 ug/m3 increase in chronic PM2.5 exposure was associated with a decrease in kidney function equivalent to what would be expected from 2 yrs of aging.  Bear in mind that the Wasatch Front averages a PM2.5 of about 10.  So that would be a decrease in kidney function equivalent to ten years of aging.

Mehta A, et al. Long-Term Exposure to Ambient Fine Particulate Matter and Renal Function in Older Men: The Veterans Administration Normative Aging StudyEnviron Health Perspect. 2016 Sep; 124(9): 1353–1360.

Even one to two day episodes of air pollution may be enough to trigger premature births.

Li S, et al. Acute Impact of Hourly Ambient Air Pollution on Preterm Birth. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP200

This is a review article highlighting the evidence that air pollution exposure during pregnancy and even preconception can affect the fetal development of organs like the lungs.

Veras MM, et al. Before the first breath: prenatal exposures to air pollution and lung development.  Cell Tissue Res. 2016 Oct 10. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence that episodic air pollution, typical of Utah’s inversions, provokes damage to the lining of blood vessels, which can contribute to acceleration of age related vascular disease, and ultimately strokes, heart attacks, sudden death, and poor pregnancy outcomes.  The subjects studied were young healthy adults.

Pope CA, Bhatnagar A, McCracken J, Abplanalp WT, Conklin DJ, O’Toole TE. Exposure to Fine Particulate Air Pollution Is Associated with Endothelial Injury and Systemic Inflammation.  Circ Res. 2016 Oct 25. pii: CIRCRESAHA.116.309279.

Sept. 10, 2016


This study documents that toxic, nano-sized particles called “magnetites” found in air pollution end up in our brains. People with higher concentrations of the metallic nanoparticles are known to be at higher risk for Alzheimer’s, and the kind of brain damage these “magnetites” can cause are consistent with the disease.
At 150 nanometers or less in diameter, these particles, including iron oxide, platinum, nickel, and cobalt, whose origin can be industrial, vehicle or other sources of pollution, are small enough to be inhaled through the nose and enter the brain through the olfactory nerve system. The researchers found millions of these particles per gram of brain tissue after studying numerous autopsies. The lead study author said these results are “dreadfully shocking”.

Maher, B, et al. Magnetite pollution nanoparticles in the human brain. PNAS 2016 ; published ahead of print September 6, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1605941113

More evidence that particulate air pollution harms the brain, in this case, decreases cognition in people 50-80 yrs old.

Tzivian L, et al. Long-Term Air Pollution and Traffic Noise Exposures and Mild Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1509824

This meta-analysis demonstrated an association between autism NOx and particulate pollution.

Flores-Pajot MC, Ofner M, Do MT, Lavigne E, Villeneuve PJ. Childhood autism spectrum disorders and exposure to nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter air pollution: A review and meta-analysis.  Environ Res. 2016 Aug 25. pii: S0013-9351(16)30317-6. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.07.030. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence that air pollution increases the risk for insulin resistance and type II diabetes.

Wolf K, Popp A, Schneider A, Breitner S, Hampel R, Rathmann W, Herder C, Roden M, Koenig W, Meisinger C, Peters A; Association Between Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Biomarkers Related to Insulin Resistance, Subclinical Inflammation and Adipokines. Diabetes. 2016 Sep 7. pii: db151567. [Epub ahead of print]


July 30, 2016

Research paper of the month

This study showed that the Great London Smog event of 1952, was still impacting people’s health 60 years later.  Those who were infants or babies in utero when they were exposed to the event (which only lasted 5 days), showed higher rates of respiratory disease measured several decades later.

Bharadwaj P, et al. Early Life Exposure to the Great Smog of 1952 and the Development of Asthma.  Am J Respir Crit Care Med. First published online 08 Jul 2016 as DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201603-0451OC

We have know for several years that even low levels of particulate pollution (PM2.5) are associated with increased rates of daily death.  Here is more evidence.

Schwartz J. et al. Estimating Causal Effects of Local Air Pollution on Daily Deaths: Effect of Low Levels.  Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP232


It is well established that air pollution increases human mortality. Here is an interesting study that shows air pollution increases mortality in animals, in this case dairy cows.

Cox B, Gasparrini A, Catry B, Fierens F, Vangronsveld J, Nawrot TS. Ambient Air Pollution-Related Mortality in Dairy Cattle: Does It Corroborate Human Findings? Epidemiology. 2016 Jul 27. [Epub ahead of print]

Air pollution accelerates the aging process, at least in part by shortening the length of telomeres. Life expectancy is proportional to telomere length, and the initial length of telomeres at birth is largely the result of environmental factors. Telomeres can be considered the cellular memories of exposure to oxidative stress and inflammation throughout a life time.

Martens DS, Nawrot TS. Air Pollution Stress and the Aging Phenotype: The Telomere Connection. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2016 Jun 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Air pollution is associated with  a loss of the sense of smell (which incidentally is one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s).

Ajmani GS, et al. Effects of Ambient Air Pollution Exposure on Olfaction: A Review.  Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Jun 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Mounting evidence on the connection between type II diabetes and air pollution.

Eze IC, et al. Air pollution and diabetes association: Modification by type 2 diabetes genetic risk score. Environ Int. 2016 Jun 6;94:263-271. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.04.032. [Epub ahead of print]

Goettems-Fiorin PB, et al. Fine particulate matter potentiates type 2 diabetes development in high-fat diet-treated mice: stress response and extracellular to intracellular HSP70 ratio analysis. J Physiol Biochem. 2016 Jun 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Communities with higher air pollution see more prescription use of medications for psychiatric disorders.

Oudin, A., Bråbäck, L., Oudin Åström, D., Strömgren, M., Forsberg, B.: Association between neighbourhood air pollution concentrations and dispensed medication for psychiatric disorders in a large longitudinal cohort of Swedish children and adolescents. BMJ Open 2016;6:e010004 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010004

More research showing the effect of air pollution on pregnancy and fetal development

Impaired fetal growth, fetal loss, and neonatal deaths were significantly associated with heavy metals exposure during pregnancy.

Rahman A, Kumarathasan P, Gomes J. Infant and mother related outcomes from exposure to metals with endocrine disrupting properties during pregnancy. Sci Total Environ. 2016 Jul 1. pii: S0048-9697(16)31309-2. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.134. [Epub ahead of print]

This study demonstrated that the number of blood vessels in the placenta is decreased in the first trimester among women exposed to more NO2.

Hettfleisch K, et al. Short-Term Exposure to Urban Air Pollution and Influences on Placental Vascularization Indexes. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Particulate pollution is associated with higher rates of heart birth defects

Liu CB, et al. Effects of Prenatal PM10 Exposure on Fetal Cardiovascular Malformations in Fuzhou, China: A Retrospective Case-Control Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Vanadium is a heavy metal that has been recently recognized as a significant toxin, and is emitted as a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, especially common in refinery emissions.  The more vanadium in a mother’s body, the higher the rate of low birthweight

Jiang M, et al. A nested case-control study of prenatal vanadium exposure and low birthweight.  Hum Reprod. 2016 Jul 4. pii: dew176. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence that toxic compounds in air pollution, from traffic and industrial sources, can cause cancer, in this case brain cancer in children with in utero, or infancy exposure.

von Ehrenstein O, et al.  In Utero and Early-Life Exposure to Ambient Air Toxics and Childhood Brain Tumors: A Population-Based Case–Control Study in California, USA Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408582

Kawasaki Disease is an inflammation of the blood vessels that afflicted infants an young children.  This study showed a statistical association between KD and ozone exposure. Air pollution certainly causes inflammation, so this is not a surprise.

Jung CR, et al.  Ambient Air Pollutant Exposures and Hospitalization for Kawasaki Disease in Taiwan: A Case-Crossover Study (2000-2010)  Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP137


May 28, 2106

This is probably the best study to date showing that air pollution does indeed increase risk for still births.  This meta-analysis showed a 2% increase for every 4 ug/m3 PM2.5. During a bad winter inversion and the height of the Uinta Basin drilling activity, at the one poorly placed monitor in Vernal, there was often PM2.5 of over 60. If that monitor had been placed in downtown Vernal, it would very likely have been much worse.  Winter inversions in the Salt Lake Valley can reach PM2.5 levels of over 90.  NOx, SO2, CO, and ozone were also shown to significantly correlate with still births.   Vernal has had the unique distinction of simultaneously high ozone, and high PM2.5.

Siddika N, Balogun HA, Amegah AK, Jaakkola JJ. Prenatal ambient air pollution exposure and the risk of stillbirth: systematic review and meta-analysis of the empirical evidence. Occup Environ Med. 2016 May 24. pii: oemed-2015-103086. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2015-103086. [Epub ahead of print] Review. 


The study below showed that the multi-faceted operations of the Canadian Tar Sands are a major source of air pollution in North America.  The authors state this has implications for other sources of “heavy oil” extraction.  That would include the heavy black wax crude in the Uinta Basin.  These two studies certainly reinforce our concern about air pollution as the most likely explanation for the spike in infant deaths in Vernal.

Leggy J, et al. Oil sands operations as a large source of secondary organic aerosols  Nature (2016) doi:10.1038/nature17646


This is a landmark study showing chronic PM 2.5 levels of as little as 5 ug/m3 correlate with a 20% increase in development of coronary artery calcification over ten years.  The EPA’s annual standard is 12.5 ug.  So based on the metric from this study, what the EPA considers “safe” or acceptable, will increase the “hardening” of your arteries  over 70 yrs, by 360%.  Doesn’t sound very safe does it?

Kaufman, J, et al. Association between air pollution and coronary artery calcification within six metropolitan areas in the USA (the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution): a longitudinal cohort study.  DOI:

The risk of a ischemic stroke with air pollution is well established.  This study shows that particulate pollution and ozone are significantly correlated with hemorrhagic stroke as well.

Han M, et al. Association between hemorrhagic stroke occurrence and meteorological factors and pollutants.  BMC Neurol. 2016 May 4;16(1):59. doi: 10.1186/s12883-016-0579-2.

More evidence on the association between air pollution and type II diabetes.  This study is from China, where the air pollution is particularly severe.

Liu C, et al. Associations between long-term exposure to ambient particulate air pollution and type 2 diabetes prevalence, blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels in China. Environ Int. 2016 May 2;92-93:416-421. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.03.028. [Epub ahead of print]


May 1, 2016

Following almost 67,000 people, researchers found there is a strong correlation between chronic exposure to particulate pollution, and death due to all types of cancer. In particular for every 10 ug/m3 of PM2.5 (which is about the annual average for the Wasatch Front), there was an overall increase of 22% in death from cancer, and even higher rates for lung and digestive system cancers, and an extraordinary increase of 80% in death rates for breast cancer, the most common cancer in women. Any of your loved ones have breast cancer? This should make the issue of air quality very personal to everyone.

Wong CM, et al. Cancer Mortality Risks from Long-term Exposure to Ambient Fine Particle.  Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; Published OnlineFirst April 29, 2016; doi 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0626

This will likely be considered a landmark study. It shows that even air quality we label
“good,” or “green”, i.e. PM2.5 of about 10 ug/m3, doubles the incidence of “intrauterine inflammation” which is a strong predisposition for premature birth. Furthermore, it shows that level of pollution even in the first three months prior to conception, increases the risk of intrauterine inflammation 52%.

Nachman RM, et al. Intrauterine Inflammation and Maternal Exposure to Ambient PM2.5 during Preconception and Specific Periods of Pregnancy: The Boston Birth Cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Apr 27. [Epub ahead of print]

UPHE has been beating the drum on all the medical research showing how toxic air pollution is to the brain.  Here is yet another study showing impairment of cognitive abilities and memory in eight year old school children.

Basagaña X, et al. Neurodevelopmental Deceleration by Urban Fine Particles from Different Emission Sources: A Longitudinal Observational Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Apr 29;124(5). [Epub ahead of print] 

This study shows that hourly levels of air pollution at the time labor begins, show a significant correlation with rates of premature birth.

Li S, Guo Y, Williams G. Acute Impact of Hourly Ambient Air Pollution on Preterm Birth.  Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Another study showing air pollution is associated with depression–in this case PM2.5 of 10 ug/m3 associated with about a 50% increase.

Kim KN, et al. Long-Term Fine Particulate Matter Exposure and Major Depressive Disorder in a Community-Based Urban Cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence that short-term exposure to PM2.5  promotes type II diabetes, by inducing vascular insulin resistance and inflammation triggered by a mechanism involving inflammation in the lungs.

Haberzettl P, O’Toole TE, Bhatnagar A, Conklin DJ. Exposure to Fine Particulate Air Pollution Causes Vascular Insulin Resistance by Inducing Pulmonary Oxidative Stress. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Another study showing air pollution changes the placental epigenetic profile, putting a newborn at risk for adverse health outcomes later in life.

Tsamou M, et al. Air pollution-induced placental epigenetic alterations in early life: a candidate miRNA approach. Epigenetics. 2016 Apr 22:0. [Epub ahead of print]

Exposure to traffic related pollution at birth was associated with a 500% increased risk for a certain type of childhood leukemia (AML).

Janitza AE, et al. Traffic-related air pollution and childhood acute leukemia in Oklahoma.  Environmental Research. Volume 148, July 2016, Pages 102–111 

Children exposed to more traffic related air pollution at home, have lower grade point averages, even when other known confounding variables are factored in.

Clark-Reyna SE, et al. Residential exposure to air toxics is linked to lower grade point averages among school children in El Paso, Texas, USA. Popul Environ. 2016 Mar;37(3):319-340. Epub 2015 Jul 17.

Prenatal exposure to NOx is associated with increased risk for childhood obesity

Lavigne E, et al. Air Pollution Exposure During Pregnancy and Fetal Markers of Metabolic Function: The MIREC Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Mar 29. pii: kwv256. [Epub ahead of print]

Measuring PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)/DNA adducts from umbilical cord blood (as an indication of air pollution exposure), there was a significant correlation between prenatal air pollution exposure and anxiety, depression, aggressive behavior, and attention problems in children up to 11 years old.

Margolis AE, et al. Longitudinal effects of prenatal exposure to air pollutants on self-regulatory capacities and social competence. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2016 Mar 17. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12548. [Epub ahead of print]

This study found a 24% increase in type II diabetes per increase in long term exposure to PM2.5 of 3.1 ug/m3 (less than a third of annual average on the Wasatch Front).

Hansen AB, et al. Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter and incidence of diabetes in the Danish Nurse Cohort. Environ Int. 2016 Mar 15;91:243-250. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.02.036. [Epub ahead of print]

Among elderly men, air pollution aggravates cardiovascular risk factors, i.e. increased blood pressure, decreased heart rate variability, worse cholesterol profile, and inflammatory biomarkers.  Those effects were generally more pronounced in men who are already at increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Bind MA, et al. Quantile Regression Analysis of the Distributional Effects of Air Pollution on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate Variability, Blood Lipids, and Biomarkers of Inflammation in Elderly American Men: The Normative Aging Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Mar 11. [Epub ahead of print]

March 12, 2016

Acrolein, one of the most toxic components in wood smoke, causes deterioration of heart muscle function after 3 hr exposure.  Deterioration persisted at least as long as 24 hrs.  This study done in mice.

Thompson LC, et al. Acrolein Inhalation Alters Myocardial Synchrony and Performance at and Below Exposure Concentrations that Cause Ventilatory Responses. Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2016 Feb 19. [Epub ahead of print]

High levels of traffic air pollution are associated with significantly higher rates of brain cancer.

Poulsen AH, et al. Air pollution from traffic and risk for brain tumors: a nationwide study in Denmark. Cancer Causes Control. 2016 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence of air pollution’s effect on pregnancy.  Primary and secondary particulate matter, NOx, and ozone were all associated with higher incidences of pre-term births.

Laurent O, et al. A Statewide Nested Case-Control Study of Preterm Birth and Air Pollution by Source and Composition: California, 2001-2008. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Feb 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Habitual incense burning in the home is associated with decreased birth weight and small head circumference in term births.  Boys are affected more than girls.

Chen LY, et al. Incense Burning during Pregnancy and Birth Weight and Head Circumference among Term Births: The Taiwan Birth Cohort Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Mar 11. [Epub ahead of print]

PM2.5, and NOx are associated with higher rates of Low Birth Weight Syndrome.

Coker E, et al. Multi-pollutant exposure profiles associated with term low birth weight in Los Angeles County. Environ Int. 2016 Feb 15;91:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.02.011. [Epub ahead of print]

March 1, 2016

The evidence for air pollution’s neurotoxicity continues to mount.  For every 3 ug/m3 increase in NO2, considered a marker of traffic pollution, rates of Parkinson’s Disease increased 9%. Wasatch Front averages around 25 ug/m3. This study suggests that Wasatch Front pollution is associated with an increase in Parkinson’s of 72%.

Ritz B, et al. Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Parkinson’s Disease in Denmark: A Case–Control Study. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1409313

Long term exposure to traffic pollution strongly associated with Alzheimer’s and vascular caused dementia.

Oudin, A, et al. Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Dementia Incidence in Northern Sweden: A Longitudinal Study. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408322

manhattan2_0 Air pollution over Manhattan, 1970s.

Feb. 17, 2016

The evidence on how air pollution damages the brain continues to mount.  This study followed almost 100,000 people’s chronic air pollution exposure, and found an extraordinary  211% risk of Alzheimer’s per increase of 10.91 ppb in O3, a 138% risk of increase of AD per increase of 4.34 μg/m3 in PM2.5.  Ozone can reach 70-80 ppb in the summer, and PM2.5 70-90 ug/m3 in the winter.

Jung CR, Lin YT, Hwang BF. Ozone, particulate matter, and newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease: a population-based cohort study in Taiwan. J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;44(2):573-84. doi: 10.3233/JAD-140855.

Feb. 12, 2016

This fascinating study demonstrates that the increased mortality affect of air pollution persists for decades.  The air pollution you breathed in the 1970s is still increasing your mortality risk.

Hansell A, et al. Historic air pollution exposure and long-term mortality risks in England and Wales: prospective longitudinal cohort study. Thorax 2015;0:1–9. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2015-207111

The body of research revealing the neurotoxicity of air pollution, especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) continues to grow.  This study in people over 60 yrs. old, showed this correlation between metabolites of PAHs measured in urine and cognitive testing:  a 1% increase in PAHs resulted in approximately a 1.8% poorer performance.

Best EA, Juarez-Colunga E, James K, LeBlanc WG, Serdar B (2016) Biomarkers of Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Cognitive Function among Elderly in the United States (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: 2001-2002). PLoS ONE 11(2): e0147632. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147632

There is a growing body of research showing a significant connection between air pollution and Type II diabetes, i.e. decreased glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity.  This study showed short term air pollution has these effects as well as increasing bad cholesterol (LDL) , and decreasing the good cholesterol (HDL).

Chen Z, et al. Ambient Air Pollutants Have Adverse Effects on Insulin and Glucose Homeostasis in Mexican Americans. Diabetes Care. 2016 Feb 11. pii: dc151795. [Epub ahead of print]

Another meta-analysis showing the connection between air pollution and multiple types of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Lamichhane DK, Leem JH, Lee JY1, Kim HC. A meta-analysis of exposure to particulate matter and adverse birth outcomes. Environ Health Toxicol. 2015 Nov 3;30:e2015011. doi: 10.5620/eht.e2015011. eCollection 2015.

Jan. 17, 2016

A 32 study meta-analysis showing significant association between PM2.5 exposure during the second and third trimesters and lower overall birth weights, and higher rates of babies who qualify as having Low Birth Weight Syndrome. Heavy metals and PAHs likely increase the toxicity of PM2.5 in causing this outcome. The authors state, “These robust results further reveal the toxic effect of PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy on fetal growth. Air pollution is ubiquitous. All pregnant women are exposed to it at some level, and immature fetuses are more susceptible.”

Sun X, Luo X, Zhao C, Zhang B, Tao J, Yang Z, Ma W, Liu T. The associations between birth weight and exposure to fine particulate matter (PM<sub>2.5</sub>) and its chemical constituents during pregnancy: A meta-analysis. Environ Pollut. 2015 Dec 28;211:38-47. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2015.12.022. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence that PM2.5 pollution is associated with increased risk for pre-term birth.

DeFranco E, et al. Exposure to airborne particulate matter during pregnancy is associated with preterm birth: a population-based cohort study. Environ Health. 2016 Jan 15;15(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s12940-016-0094-3.

Even more evidence that air pollution reduces the birth weight of infants. Babies born in Beijing, China during 2008 when significant reductions in pollution were achieved for the Olympics, babies born were larger than those born in the year before and the year after.

Rich D, et al. Differences in Birth Weight Associated with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Air Pollution Reduction: Results from a Natural Experiment. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408795

Pregnant mothers exposed to more wood smoke, give birth to children that demonstrate worse neurologic scores including visuo-spatial integration, short-term memory, long-term memory, and fine motor skills when tested at ages 6-7.

Cooper L, Eskenazi B, Romero C, Balmes J, Smith KR. Neurodevelopmental performance among school age children in rural Guatemala is associated with prenatal and postnatal exposure to carbon monoxide, a marker for exposure to woodsmoke. Neurotoxicology. 2012 Mar;33(2):246-54. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Sep 24.

Air pollution associated with higher rates of heart birth defects.

Girguisa M, et al. Maternal exposure to traffic-related air pollution and birth defects in Massachusetts. Environmental Research. Volume 146, April 2016, Pages 1–9

Numerous studies have shown that air pollution is significantly correlated with rates of Type II diabetes.  This study shows the possible biologic mechanism–increased levels of circulating stress hormones and lipid metabolites with even brief exposure to high levels of ozone.

Miller D, et al. Ozone Exposure Increases Circulating Stress Hormones and Lipid Metabolites in Humans. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print]

Air pollution exposure during fetal development and infancy can have life long consequences.  This study showed decreased lung function measured at age 16 for those adolescents that were exposed to more air pollution during the first year of life.  Additional pollution exposure after that, caused further reductions in lung function.

Schultz E, et al. “Early-Life Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution and Lung Function in Adolescence”, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 193, No. 2 (2016), pp. 171-177.

Chronic exposure to PM2.5 is associated with loss of brain white matter in elderly women.  For every 3.49 ug/m3 PM2.5 annual average, the loss of white matter was about what would be seen from 1-2 years of aging.  With Salt Lake City averaging about 10 ug/m3, that means there is an acceleration of brain aging of 3-6 yrs.

Chen JC, et al. Ambient Air Pollution and Neurotoxicity on Brain Structure: Evidence From Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. ANN NEUROL 2015;78:466–476 

Dec. 12, 2015

This MIT study is from 2013, and we don’t know how we missed this at the time, but it certainly ramps up the relationship between pollution and mortality.  Epidemiologic evidence indicates that annually, 210,000 people in the US die prematurely due to particulate pollution and ozone.  And the average premature death represents a loss of life  of ten years!

PM2.5 generated from coal and diesel combustion are much more potent triggers of cardiovascular disease than PM2.5 from other sources.

Thurston GD, Burnett RT, Turner MC, Shi Y, Krewski D, Lall R, Ito K, Jerrett M, Gapstur SM, Diver WR, Pope CA 3rd. Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality and Long-Term Exposure to Source-Related Components of U.S. Fine Particle Air Pollution. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Dec 2. [Epub ahead of print]

More exposure to particulate pollution is associated with higher blood levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol.

Shanley RP, Hayes RB, Cromar KR, Ito K, Gordon T, Ahn J. “Particulate Air Pollution and Clinical Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors”. Epidemiology. 2015 Nov 24. [Epub ahead of print]

More evidence of the neurotoxicity of air pollution

Costa LG, et al. NEUROTOXICITY OF TRAFFIC-RELATED AIR POLLUTION. Neurotoxicology. 2015 Nov 20. pii: S0161-813X(15)30024-3. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2015.11.008. [Epub ahead of print]

Particulate pollution associated with higher rates of hospital admissions for multiple sclerosis.

Laura A,, et al. Effects of particulate matter exposure on multiple sclerosis hospital admission in Lombardy region, Italy. Environ Res. 2015 Nov 25;145:68-73. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.11.017. [Epub ahead of print]

Decreased lung function in children postnatally exposed to pesticides.

Raanan R, Balmes JR, Harley KG, Gunier RB, Magzamen S, Bradman A, Eskenazi B. Decreased lung function in 7-year-old children with early-life organophosphate exposure. Thorax. 2015 Dec 3. pii: thoraxjnl-2014-206622. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2014-206622. [Epub ahead of print]

Elderly people exposed to more air pollution have impaired heart electrical activity (prolonged QT interval).

Mordukhovich I, Kloog I, Coull B, Koutrakis P, Vokonas P, Schwartz J. Association between Particulate Air Pollution and QT Interval Duration in an Elderly Cohort. Epidemiology. 2015 Nov 24. [Epub ahead of print]


Nov. 21, 2015

More evidence that air pollution causes poor pregnancy outcomes, especially pre-term births.

Sun X, et al. The association between fine particulate matter exposure during pregnancy and preterm birth: a meta-analysis. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015 Nov 18;15(1):300.
Zhu X, et al. Maternal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and pregnancy outcomes: a meta-analysis.  Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2015 Mar;22(5):3383-96. doi: 10.1007/s11356-014-3458-7. Epub 2014 Aug 28.

PM2.5 is associated with increased risk for liver cancer.

Pan W, et al. Fine Particle Pollution, Alanine Transaminase, and Liver Cancer: A Taiwanese Prospective Cohort Study (REVEAL-HBV). J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Nov 11;108(3). pii: djv341. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv341. Print 2015 Mar.

Hazardous air pollutant exposure during prenatal life and early infancy are strongly associated with increased rates of certain types of childhood brain tumors.

von Ehrenstein O, et al. In Utero and Early-Life Exposure to Ambient Air Toxics and Childhood Brain Tumors: A Population-Based Case–Control Study in California, USA. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408582

More evidence that pre-natal pollution harms brain function in children.  In this case NOx exposure was calculated at birth, verbal IQ tests were done at age seven.

Porta D, Narduzzi S, Badaloni C, Bucci S, Cesaroni G, Colelli V, Davoli M, Sunyer J, Zirro E, Schwartz J, Forastiere F. Air pollution and cognitive development at age seven in a prospective Italian birth cohort.   Epidemiology. 2015 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print]

The bulk of the evidence suggests that people benefit from exercise, even during pollution situations.  But what is the threshold at which someone does themselves more harm than good is not known.  Aerobic exercise augments the overall inhaled air pollution dose, potentiates the diffusion of pollutants into circulating blood, augments oxidative stress and inflammation, raises blood pressure, impairs vascular function, and unfavorably affect autonomic balance.

Giorgini P, Rubenfire M, Bard RL, Jackson EA, Ferri C, Brook RD. Air Pollution and Exercise: A REVIEW OF THE CARDIOVASCULAR IMPLICATIONS FOR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2015 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print]

New methodology that solidifies the increase in mortality due to air pollution.

Schwartz J, Austin E, Bind MA, Zanobetti A, Koutrakis P. Estimating Causal Associations of Fine Particles With Daily Deaths in Boston. Am J Epidemiol. 2015 Sep 6. pii: kwv101. [Epub ahead of print]

More research strengthening the connection between air pollution and Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Rates increased about 40% for the most exposed group, compared to the least.

Oudin A, Forsberg B, Nordin Adolfsson A, Lind N, Modig L, Nordin M, Nordin S, Adolfsson R, Nilsson LG.  Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Dementia Incidence in Northern Sweden: A Longitudinal Study.  Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Jul 31. [Epub ahead of print] 

Oct. 15, 2015

Pregnant mothers who live closest to fracking sites were 40% more likely to give birth prematurely than those who live farthest away.  Premature birth predisposes a baby to a lifelong increase in vulnerability to a wide variety of poor health outcomes.

Casey JA, Savitz DA, Rasmussen SG, Ogburn EL, Pollak J, Mercer DG, Schwartz BS. Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Birth Outcomes in Pennsylvania, USA. Epidemiology. 2015 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Pregnant mothers more exposed to neurotoxins in air pollution, in this case styrene and chromium are more likely to give birth to children who are later diagnosed with autism.  It is unclear, however, whether these chemicals are risk factors themselves or if they are just a reflection of the effect of a much larger mixture of toxic compounds.

Talbott EO, et al. Air toxics and the risk of autism spectrum disorder: the results of a population based case-control study in southwestern Pennsylvania. Environ Health. 2015 Oct 6;14:80. doi: 10.1186/s12940-015-0064-1.

May 21, 2015

Another study showing significantly increased risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder with prenatal, and post natal (up to two years after birth) exposure to PM2.5.

Talbott E, et al.  Fine particulate matter and the risk of autism spectrum disorder.  Environmental Research.  Volume 140, July 2015, Pages 414–420  

May 15, 2015

This paper followed 10 million people, and measured the time to first admission for any of three neurodegenerative diseases–dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s.  They found an 8-15% increase in diagnosis of these disorders per 1 ug/m3 increase in long PM2.5 exposure.  That’s a remarkably strong correlation.

Kioumourtzoglou MA, Schwartz JD, Weisskopf MG, Melly SJ, Wang Y, Dominici F, Zanobetti A. Long-term PM2.5 Exposure and Neurological Hospital Admissions in the Northeastern United States. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 May 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Interesting paper that showed decreased birth weight and smaller head circumference in babies born to white, British mothers exposed to more PM2.5, but not in Pakistani mothers.  In contrast, more PM2.5 exposure increased adiposity of newborns in Pakistani mothers, but not in white British mothers.  Not sure what to make of those findings.

Schembari A, de Hoogh K, Pedersen M, Dadvand P, Martinez D, Hoek G, Petherick ES, Wright J, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ.  Ambient Air Pollution and Newborn Size and Adiposity at Birth: Differences by Maternal Ethnicity (the Born in Bradford Study Cohort).  Environ Health Perspect. 2015 May 15. [Epub ahead of print]

May 2, 2015

In Beijing China, for about one month prior to the 2008 Olympics, many of their coal fired power plants were shut down, and traffic was forcibly reduced about 50%, all in an effort to reduce pollution.  In a study of 84,000 births, mothers in their 8th month of pregnancy in 2008, compared to 2007 and 2009, gave birth to babies about 1% larger.  This then is yet another study showing that air pollution reduces birth weight.  1% doesn’t sound like much per baby, but it becomes a very large public health issue when thousands of babies are affected that way.  Reduced birth weight is associated with an increased risk of numerous lifelong chronic diseases and impaired organ function.

Rich D, et al. Differences in Birth Weight Associated with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Air Pollution Reduction: Results from a Natural Experiment. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408795

April 23, 2015

There are now several studies linking  air pollution to Type I Diabetes.  Two more have been published in the last two weeks.

Bodin J, Stene LC, Nygaard UC. Can Exposure to Environmental Chemicals Increase the Risk of Diabetes Type 1 Development? Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:208947. Epub 2015 Mar 26.

Malmqvist E. Maternal exposure to air pollution and type 1 diabetes – Accounting for genetic factors.  Environ Res. 2015 Apr 13;140:268-274. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.03.024. [Epub ahead of print]

More and more studies are showing how toxic air pollution is to the brain.  Previous studies have shown loss of white matter volume in children exposed to air pollution in the womb, and in animals exposed shortly after birth.  The study below, examining adults 60 yrs old and older, shows a loss of total brain volume (an indicator of dementia and brain atrophy) with even small increments of PM2.5.   For every 2 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5, brain volume decreased 0.32% and the odds of covert brain infarcts (mini-strokes) increased 46%.  Given that the EPA has recently lowered the annual PM2.5 standard to 12 ug/m3, that means air quality can meet the national standard, and still be responsible for a 2% decrease in your brain matter, and a 280% increased likelihood of provoking  mini-strokes.

Wilker E, et al. Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads and Measures of Brain Structure. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.008348. Published online before print April 23, 2015,

April 14, 2015

Yet another study showing prenatal air pollution exposure is associated with significantly worse neuropsychological development in children.  For every 1 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5,  motor scores were decreased 1.14 points, and every 1 ug/m3 increase in NO2 was associated with a 0.29 point decrease in mental scores.  The Wasatch Front averages 38-57 ug/m3 for NO2.

Lertxundi A, et al. Exposure to fine particle matter, nitrogen dioxide and benzene during pregnancy and cognitive and psychomotor developments in children at 15months of age. Environ Int. 2015 Apr 10;80:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.03.007. [Epub ahead of print]

April 5, 2015.

Prenatal exposure to pollution increases newborns’ blood pressure.

van Rossem L, et al. Prenatal Air Pollution Exposure and Newborn Blood Pressure. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307419

Pregnant mothers exposed to air pollution demonstrate shortened placental telomeres.  Placental telomeres correlate with newborn’s telomeres and telomeres are highly predictive of life expectancy.  There is wide variability in the length of newborn’s telomeres, and most of that variability is related to environmental exposures.   Bottom line–Maternal exposure to air pollution programs her baby to a shorter life span.

Bijnens E, Zeegers MP, Gielen M, Kicinski M, Hageman GJ, Pachen D, Derom C, Vlietinck R, Nawrot TS. Lower placental telomere length may be attributed to maternal residential traffic exposure; a twin study. Environ Int. 2015 Mar 7;79:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.02.008. [Epub ahead of print]

PAH exposure during pregnancy decreases levels of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), critical to brain development, and whose levels correlate inversely with brain dysfunction.

Tang D, Lee J, Muirhead L, Li TY, Qu L, Yu J, et al. 2014. Molecular and neurodevelopmental benefits to children of closure of a coal burning power plant in China. PLoS One 9:e91966.

March 27, 2015.  This was a big week in air pollution research.

Prenatal exposure to PAH air pollutants (in high concentrations in refinery emissions, cigarette smoke and wood smoke) damages fetal brain development, shrinking the volume of white matter primarily in the left hemisphere measured in early childhood, resulting in impaired cognition, ADHD and hyperactive behavior.

Peterson B, et al. Effects of Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollutants (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) on the Development of Brain White Matter, Cognition, and Behavior in Later Childhood. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 25, 2015.doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.57

Large study, examining 350,000 births, at PM2.5  levels of slightly more than 16 ug/m3 in the third trimester, showed 42% increased risk of still births.

DeFranco E, et al. Air Pollution and Stillbirth Risk: Exposure to Airborne Particulate Matter during Pregnancy Is Associated with Fetal Death. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 20;10(3):e0120594. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120594.

Previous studies have shown higher rates of virtually every type of adverse pregnancy outcome with air pollution.  This study of 410, 000 pregnant women showed even higher rates of gestational diabetes  with air pollution–20% increase for every 5 ug/m3 of PM2.5 and 18% increase for every 5 ppb of ozone.

Hu H, Ha S, Henderson BH, Warner TD, Roth J, Kan H, Xu X. Association of Atmospheric Particulate Matter and Ozone with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Mar 20. [Epub ahead of print]

March 24, 2015

Large meta-analysis of 94 studies showed even short term spikes in ozone, carbon monoxide, SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 are associated with significant increases in rates of strokes.  The greatest association was for the same day of exposure, although PM2.5 showed a lingering affect.

Shah A, et al. Short term exposure to air pollution and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2015;350:h1295

lung picture jpeg

March 5, 2105.

From the world’s most prestigious medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, a landmark study showing improved air quality pays off with improved lung function and actual growth of lung capacity in children.  This not only improves cardiovascular capability, but is a key factor in avoiding adult onset of lung and heart disease and increasing life expectancy, which is highly correlated with lung function.

Gauderman WJ, et al. Association of Improved Air Quality with Lung Development in Children. N Engl J Med 2015; 372:905-913March 5, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1414123

March 5, 2015.  Another study showing kids exposed to more traffic pollution demonstrate intellectual impairment compared to their non-exposed peers.  In this study, similar to other studies, the cognitive loss was over 4%.

Sunnier J, et al. Association between Traffic-Related Air Pollution in Schools and Cognitive Development in Primary School Children: A Prospective Cohort Study. PLOS medicine. Published: March 3, 2015DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001792

wood fire JPEG

Feb. 28, 2015.  Even a modest program of curtailing community wood smoke in the San Joaquin Valley resulted in a significant reduction in PM2.5, about 15%, and a similar reduction in hospitalization for ischemic heart disease.  Salt Lake City would undoubtedly have an even greater benefit because the average winter temperature in Salt Lake is about ten degrees colder than the San Joaquin Valley, therefore more wood is being burned.

Yap PS, Garcia C. Effectiveness of Residential Wood-Burning Regulation on Decreasing Particulate Matter Levels and Hospitalizations in the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin. Am J Public Health. 2015 Feb 25:e1-e7. [Epub ahead of print]

Feb. 16, 2015   Another recent study compared daily hospital admissions and death rates related to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases among two cities in South America where one city’s pollution was predominantly from wood smoke and another was from mobile and typical point sources. Compared to the non-wood burning city, the city with primarily wood smoke experienced an increase of 47% for cardiorespiratory deaths, and an increase of 104% for respiratory hospital admissions for every 10 ug/m3 increase in PM10

Díaz-Robles L, et al. Short Term Health Effects of Particulate Matter: A Comparison between Wood Smoke and Multi-Source Polluted Urban Areas in Chile. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 15: 306–318, doi:10.4209/aaqr.2013.01.0316


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