Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 103 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 12-Apr-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 13-Apr-2004
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In-car air polllution exposure affects healthy state troopers

A study of tiny airborne particulate matter in the vehicles of nine healthy, young, non-smoking male North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers as they each worked four 3 p.m. to midnight shifts showed that pollutants could cause pathophysiologic changes in the officers that involved inflammation, coagulation, and cardiac rhythms.

The investigators pointed out that the troopers showed significant and strong increase in heart rate variability, ectopic heart beats, blood inflammatory and coagulation markers, and mean corpuscular volume in association with exposure to particulate matter. (Ectopic heart beats originate at some point other than the heart's "pacemaker"--the sinus node.)

Each trooper's patrol car was equipped with an air quality monitor. Blood was drawn 14 hours after each shift, and ambulatory monitors recorded the electrocardiogram throughout the shift and until the next morning.

The researchers said that the troopers represented a group that appeared to be at very low risk for cardiac and other adverse health conditions.

However, they did point out that the study showed a strong and consistent increase in heart rate variability in association with exposure to airborne particulate matter.

Also, there were inflammatory markers in the peripheral blood that suggested exposure causes slight vascular inflammation.

The research appears in the second issue for April 2004 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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