Learn about some of the recent research EPA researchers and their partners have published in scientific journals.
Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
- EPA scientists found that exposure to varying levels of ozone have both direct and indirect effects on the heart. In a study, rats exposed to 0.8 parts per million (ppm) of ozone experienced immediate and clear changes in heart function, including heart arrhythmias and abnormal electrocardiograms (ECG). While there were no direct changes in heart function when the rats were exposed to 0.2 ppm of ozone, they were sensitive to alterations in heart function when the heart was stressed 24 hours after exposure.
Overt and Latent Cardiac Effects of Ozone Inhalation in Rats: Evidence for Autonomic Modulation and Increased Myocardial Vulnerability. Published March 2012 in Environmental Health Perspectives
- A clinical human exposure study indicates that ozone pollution may be unhealthy for your heart, as well as your lungs. The study found that ozone caused temporary changes in both the heart and vascular systems of healthy young adults when exposed with intermittent exercise. More specifically, the researchers discovered that ozone exposure caused inflammation of the vascular system and resulted in two risk factors for heart disease—a change in heart rate variability and a reduction in the ability of blood clots to dissolve.
Controlled Exposure of Healthy Young Volunteers to Ozone Causes Cardiovascular Effects. Published online before print June 25, 2012 in Circulation.
- EPA scientists have conducted the first clinical human exposure study to investigate the potential protective effects of diets rich in fish oil from cardiovascular dysfunction induced by air pollution. In studying 29 healthy subjects, researchers found that taking fish oil can protect the heart from particulate matter (PM) induced adverse health effects, including altered heart rate variability and blood lipid profiles.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Appears to Attenuate Particulate Air Pollution Induced Cardiac Effects and Lipid Changes in Healthy Middle-Aged Adults. Published online before print April 19, 2012 in Environmental Health Perspectives.
- The Clean Air Research Center at Harvard University, funded by EPA, has recently linked exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to increased risk of stroke within hours of exposure. Looking at medical records of Boston area patients hospitalized with stroke, scientists measured the level of exposure to PM2.5 in the hours and days before each patient developed symptoms. Results of the study suggest that levels of PM2.5 generally considered to be safe may increase the risk of stroke within hours of exposure.
Ambient Air Pollution and the Risk of Acute Ischemic Stroke. Published February 13, 2012 in Archives of Internal Medicine.
- In collaboration with the San Francisco Estuaries Partnership and the Massachusetts Bay Program, EPA conducted ecological vulnerability assessments for salt marshes and mudflats to help in adaptation planning for climate change. Two reports for the assessments provide estuary program managers with information necessary to make decisions about and implement climate change adaptation planning in the San Francisco and Massachusetts Bay areas. The reports also provide information that may inform climate change adaptation planning across the larger National Estuary Program, as well as other estuary management programs.
- EPA scientists recently conducted atmospheric modeling to evaluate the role of reactive nitrogen in climate change and found that agricultural sources of nitrous oxide (fertilizer usage) contribute the most to global warming. The study found that the net effect of reactive nitrogen released in the U.S. leads to an overall warming effect in the long term. This research suggests that reducing emissions of nitrous oxide from agriculture could be one way to reduce global warming. Fortunately, there are existing technologies and practices that can help reduce emissions by increasing the efficiency of nitrogen use and managing run off.
Climate Change Impacts of US Reactive Nitrogen. Published online before print April 30, 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- The EPA/NIEHS Children’s Center at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health has published results that associate prenatal exposure to air pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with behavioral problems in children. PAHs are released to air during incomplete combustion of fossil fuel such as diesel, gasoline, coal, and other organic material, and when inhaled by a mother during pregnancy, PAHs can be transferred across the placenta.
EPA news story
Prenatal Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Exposure and Child Behavior at Age 6–7 Years. Published June 2012 in Environmental Health Perspectives.
To read more scientific journal articles published by EPA, please see the Science Inventory