Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UAlbany: Assessing the Association Between Fine Particulate Matter and Cardiovascular Diseases in Karachi

Rapid industrialization and increases in cardiovascular disease (CVD) have been recorded in Pakistan, especially in urban areas. The degree to which air pollution contributes to the increase in the burden of CVD in Pakistan has not been assessed due to lack of data. In order to address this research gap, Dr. Haider Khwaja, assisted by Drs. David Carpenter and Shao Lin, recently investigated the impact of PM2.5 (fine particles in the air) on cardiovascular morbidity in Karachi, Pakistan.

Daily levels of 21 constituents of PM2.5 (such as chlorine, nickel, potassium, and arsenic) were analyzed using samples collected at two different sites in Karachi (fall 2008 to summer 2009). Data on hospital admission and emergency room (ER) visits due to CVD were collected from the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and the Aga Khan University Hospital.

Results showed that levels of lead, aluminum, calcium, magnesium, and chlorine were over 100 times higher than the U.S. average and that PM2.5 generated from fossil-fuel combustion and road dust resuspension were associated with the increased risk of CVD in Karachi. Results indicated extremely high levels of PM2.5 constituents from fossil-fuel combustion and industrial emissions, with notable peaks in winter. Consistent associations were found between exposure to nickel and cardiovascular hospital admissions, most likely because nickel is often used as a catalyst for several industrial processes.

Policies targeting fossil-fuel combustion and industrial emissions are needed to help reduce emergency room visits due to CVD. In-depth results from this study can be found in Environmental Pollution.

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