Introduction: Ambient particulate air pollution is known to have detrimental effects on cardiovascular health but less is known about the specific effects of black carbon or elemental carbon (BC/EC) and ultrafine particles (UFP).
Methods: We present a narrative review of the epidemiological evidence related to the impact of exposure to BC/EC and UFP on blood pressure in adults. We searched PubMed and EMBASE in September 2017, using a predefined search strategy. Abstracts were screened using predefined inclusion criteria. Data collection was completed using a standard data extraction form. We focused on main effect estimates for associations between short (≤7 days) and long-term exposures to BC/EC and UFP and systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Effect estimates were rescaled to enable direct comparisons between studies.
Results: Thirty publications were included in the review: 19 studies examined outdoor exposure to BC/EC, 11 examined outdoor UFP, three studies examined indoor BC and one study examined indoor UFP. In general, existing evidence supports a positive association between BC/EC and blood pressure. Evidence for outdoor UFP exposures were less clear as effect estimates were small in magnitude and confidence intervals often included the null.
Conclusions: Existing evidence supports a positive association between BC/EC and blood pressure in adults, whereas UFPs do not appear to have a meaningful impact on blood pressure.
Keywords: Air pollution; Black carbon; Blood pressure; Epidemiology; Ultrafine particles.
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