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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Living Near Highways Raises Risk of Heart Attacks, Strokes

Boston residents who live near major highways and are exposed to ultrafine particles spewed from vehicles have higher risks of cardiovascular disease, a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health researchers shows.

The study, in the journal Environment International, adds to evidence of the dangers of exposure to vehicle pollutants.

The researchers analyzed inflammatory markers in blood samples from 408 people, ages 40 to 91, living in three near-highway and three urban background areas in and near Boston. They conducted mobile monitoring of particle number concentration (PNC) in each area, and used the data to develop highly resolved spatiotemporal regression models that accounted for individual time-activity-adjusted annual average PNC exposures. They also adjusted for variables such as body mass index, smoking, and race/ethnicity, known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The study found differences in risk among diverse racial/ethnic groups. While East Asian residents tended to be the most highly exposed subgroup, white non-Hispanics had larger effect estimates, the authors said.

“Our findings reinforce the importance of studying near-highway PNC exposures and of examining differences in exposure patterns and associations among racial/ethnic sub-populations,” the authors said.

To read more about the study, go to: