Exposure to air pollution particles at mountaintop mining sites may lead to cardiovascular dysfunction, study finds

October 10, 2012

A published study by researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and School of Public Health is the first of its kind to suggest that exposure to air pollution particles from mountaintop mining sites may impair the blood vessels' ability to dilate, which may lead to cardiovascular disease.

Air pollution particulate matter consisting largely of sulfur and silica was collected through a vacuum system within one mile of an active mountaintop mining site in southern West Virginia. Adult male rats were exposed to the , and, 24 hours following the exposure, their blood vessels' ability to dilate and function normally was significantly reduced.

"This is the first study of this kind to directly associate mountaintop mining air pollution with a lack of vascular function. West Virginians who live near mountaintop mining sites are exposed to comparable levels of air pollution, and, with pre-existing health conditions in West Virginia, certain populations are pre-disposed to cardiac distress," Tim Nurkiewicz, Ph.D., associate professor in the WVU Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, said. "It is going to be foreseeably worse for those individuals who live near mountaintop mining sites."

This is the first of a series of translational studies, and the second phase of the study will be to examine specific bodily organs that are affected or stressed by air , Dr. Nurkiewicz said.

Explore further: Large numbers of birth defects seen near mountaintop mining operations

More information: Knuckles, T. et al. "Air pollution particulate matter collected from an Appalachian mountaintop mining site induces microvascular dysfunction". Microcirculation.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Heart attack treatment hypothesis 'busted'

July 6, 2015

Researchers have long had reason to hope that blocking the flow of calcium into the mitochondria of heart and brain cells could be one way to prevent damage caused by heart attacks and strokes. But in a study of mice engineered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.