Air pollution is a complex mixture of gaseous and particulate components, each of which has detrimental effects on human health. While the composition of air pollution varies greatly depending on the source, studies from across the world have consistently shown that air pollution is an important modifiable risk factor for significantly increased morbidity and mortality. Moreover, clinical studies have generally shown a greater impact of particulate matter (PM) air pollution on health than the gaseous components. PM has wide-ranging deleterious effects on human health, particularly on the cardiovascular system. Both acute and chronic exposure to PM air pollution is associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases including ischemic heart disease, heart failure, and ischemic/thrombotic stroke. Particulate matter has also been shown to be an important endocrine disrupter, contributing to the development of metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes mellitus, which themselves are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. While the epidemiological evidence for the deleterious effects of PM air pollution on health is increasingly accepted, newer studies are shedding light on the mechanisms by which PM exerts its toxic effects. A greater understanding of how PM exerts toxic effects on human health is required in order to prevent and minimize the deleterious health effects of this ubiquitous environmental hazard. Air pollution is a growing public health problem and mortality due to air pollution is expected to double by 2050. Here, we review the epidemiological evidence for the cardiovascular effects of PM exposure and discuss current understanding about the biological mechanisms, by which PM exerts toxic effects on cardiovascular system to induce cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: cardiovascular; coagulation; inflammation; interleukin-6; lung; macrophage; particulate matter; thrombosis.