Researchers from USC, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the University of Rochester and Beijing’s Peking University, used efforts by the Chinese government to reduce air quality for the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing, as their opportunity to study air pollutants before, during, and after the Olympic Games. “Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and the Chinese government had proposed to reduce pollution levels to be comparable to other Olympic host cities, said Dr. Junfeng Zhang, senior author of the study. “We wanted to take advantage of such a huge intervention and look at what happens to people biologically.”
The study that was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reports changes in the air pollution exposure affects cardiovascular disease in healthy young people. Nearly 130 resident hospital doctors averaging 24 years of age, who had no medical problems and were non-smokers were studied. The researchers saw biological signs that heart health improves when air pollution decreases and heart health is impacted when air pollution levels increases.
This study is the first to prove even healthy people experience cardiovascular symptoms from high levels of air pollution. “We hypothesized that biomarkers of cardiovascular health would change as air pollution levels change,” says Zhang. “And that is, in fact, what we found.” As pollution levels dropped, so did indicators of cardiovascular risk in study participants. As pollution levels rose back to pre-Olympic levels, indicators rose right alongside.”
Read the study: Association Between Changes in Air Pollution Levels During the Beijing Olympics and Biomarkers of Inflammation and Thrombosis in Healthy Young Adults
Read the USC article: Beijing Olympics Experiment Reveals Biological Link Between Air Pollution Exposure, Cardiovascular Disease