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Air Pollution Exposure and Cardiovascular Disease


Ambient air pollution (AAP) and particulate matters (PM) have been closely associated with adverse health effects such as respiratory disease and cardiovascular diseases. Previous studies have examined the adverse health effects associated with short- and long-term exposure to AAP and outdoor PM on respiratory disease. However, the effect of PM size (PM2.5 and PM10) on cardiovascular disease has not been well studied. Thus, it remains unclear how the size of the inhalable particles (coarse, fine, or ultrafine) affects mortality and morbidity. Airborne PM concentrations are commonly used for ambient air quality management worldwide, owing to the known effects on cardiorespiratory health. In this article, we assess the relationship between cardiovascular diseases and PM, with a particular focus on PM size. We discuss the association of PM2.5 and PM10, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and elemental carbon with mortality and morbidity due to cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and altered blood pressure, based on epidemiological studies. In addition, we provide evidence that the adverse health effects of AAP and PM are more pronounced among the elderly, children, and people with preexisting cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. Finally, we critically summarize the literature pertaining to cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and stroke, and introduce potential studies to better understand the health significance of AAP and PM on cardiovascular disease.



Ambient air pollution


Particulate Matter


Nitrogen dioxide


Carbon monoxide


Sulfur dioxide




Carbon monoxide


Carbon dioxide


Nitrogen dioxide


Nitric oxide


Aerodynamic diameter


World Health Organization


Relative Risk


Confidence Interval


Acute Myocardial Infarction


The National Morbidity, Mortality and Air Pollution Study


Air Pollution and Health European Approach


Diastolic Blood Pressure


Systolic Blood Pressure


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Correspondence to Kyuhong Lee.

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Lee, BJ., Kim, B. & Lee, K. Air Pollution Exposure and Cardiovascular Disease. Toxicol Res. 30, 71–75 (2014).

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Key words

  • Particulate matter
  • Air pollution
  • Cardiovascular disease