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Study links air pollution to irregular heartbeat

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, June 5, 2014, 3:32 PM - Even short-term exposure to air pollution can increase a person's risk of developing serious health conditions, according to a new study out of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The study -- which is published in the journal Heart -- aims to analyze the impact that short-term air pollution exposure has on heart health.

The team looked at over 400,000 cases of a specific type of heart attack called a myocardial infarction, as well as more than 2 million emergency hospital admissions and 600,000 deaths that were linked to cardiovascular disease.

Different types of pollutants were taken into consideration, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 -- air pollutants with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, making them small enough to invade person's airways.

RELATED: Air pollution officially declared a carcinogen

PM2.5 was the only pollutant that researchers could clearly link to adverse heart health. In the study, the toxic particulate was linked to irregular heartbeat and the development of lung clots.

Researchers at the World Health Organization say the more people are exposed to damaging air particulates the higher their risk of developing a wide variety of diseases, including lung and bladder cancers.

Earlier this year the W.H.O. called air pollution the 'single biggest environmental health risk', linking it to 3.7 million deaths globally in 2012 alone.

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