Effect of Portable Air Filtration Systems on Personal Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter and Blood Pressure Among Residents in a Low-Income Senior Facility: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Oct 1;178(10):1350-1357. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.3308.


Importance: Fine particulate matter (smaller than 2.5 μm) (PM2.5) air pollution is a major global risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality. Few studies have tested the benefits of portable air filtration systems in urban settings in the United States.

Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of air filtration at reducing personal exposures to PM2.5 and mitigating related CV health effects among older adults in a typical US urban location.

Design, setting, and participants: This randomized, double-blind crossover intervention study was conducted from October 21, 2014, through November 4, 2016, in a low-income senior residential building in Detroit, Michigan. Forty nonsmoking older adults were enrolled, with daily CV health outcome and PM2.5 exposure measurements.

Interventions: Participants were exposed to the following three 3-day scenarios separated by 1-week washout periods: unfiltered air (sham filtration), low-efficiency (LE) high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA)-type filtered air, and high-efficiency (HE) true-HEPA filtered air using filtration systems in their bedroom and living room.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was brachial blood pressure (BP). Secondary outcomes included aortic hemodynamics, pulse-wave velocity, and heart rate variability. Exposures to PM2.5 were measured in the participants' residences and by personal monitoring.

Results: The 40 participants had a mean (SD) age of 67 (8) years (62% men). Personal PM2.5 exposures were significantly reduced by air filtration from a mean (SD) of 15.5 (10.9) μg/m3 with sham filtration to 10.9 (7.4) μg/m3 with LE fitration and 7.4 (3.3) μg/m3 with HE filtration. Compared with sham filtration, any filtration for 3 days decreased brachial systolic and diastolic BP by 3.2 mm Hg (95% CI, -6.1 to -0.2 mm Hg) and 1.5 mm Hg (95% CI, -3.3 to 0.2 mm Hg), respectively. A continuous decrease occurred in systolic and diastolic BP during the 3-day period of LE filtration, with a mean of 3.4 mm Hg (95% CI, -6.8 to -0.1 mm Hg) and 2.2 mm Hg (95% CI, -4.2 to -0.3 mm Hg), respectively. For HE filtration, systolic and diastolic BP decreased by 2.9 mm Hg (95% CI, -6.2 to 0.5 mm Hg) and 0.8 mm Hg (95% CI, -2.8 to 1.2 mm Hg), respectively. Most secondary outcomes were not significantly improved.

Conclusions and relevance: Results of this study showed that short-term use of portable air filtration systems reduced personal PM2.5 exposures and systolic BP among older adults living in a typical US urban location. The use of these relatively inexpensive systems is potentially cardioprotective against PM2.5 exposures and warrants further research.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03334565.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Filters*
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*


  • Particulate Matter

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03334565