Pollution Puts Teenagers at Risk of Irregular Heartbeats


A study conducted last year showed proof that teenagers exposed to toxic air for extended periods are most likely to develop irregular heartbeats.

Published by King’s College London researchers in the journal Current Problems in Cardiology, the researchers used data gathered from eight different studies that involved around 15,000 teenagers. Their goal was to find out how microscopic pollution affected teenagers.

While earlier research considered studies from China, where air pollution levels were higher than in most countries; this recent one focused on Europe. Of the eight studies, five involved adolescents from Europe.

Researchers analysed PM10 and fine PM2.5 particles and how these pollutants affected teenagers aged 12 and over. They can easily enter the lungs and travel to other parts of the body, increasing blood pressure levels.

Children and teenagers are most vulnerable, especially since higher blood pressure levels often lead to heart disease and hypertension. High blood pressure can also cause strokes.

The risks are higher for teenagers (including 12-year-olds) who reside in deprived communities and heavily polluted areas and are exposed to fine particulate matter for extended periods. PM10 and PM2.5 are released through vehicle exhausts, manufacturing industries, construction combustion, and wood smoke.

Researchers also pointed out that obese and overweight children had higher blood pressure increases compared to teenagers with normal weights.

Healthy teenagers are also at risk

Another study was conducted, this time by doctors who monitored over 300 healthy adolescents and their heart activity and breathing for 24 hours. Researchers discovered that increased PM2.5 levels resulted in irregular heartbeats.

The Penn State College of Medicine study, led by Dr. Fan He, is significant because it proved that even healthy teenagers are vulnerable to the health impacts of air pollution. It can lead to arrhythmia, which can cause cardiac arrest. Two types of arrhythmias were found – the first one was triggered by the heart’s upper chamber going into premature contraction, and the second one involved the lower ventricles or chambers’ premature contraction.

Doctors revealed that premature ventricular contractions often raise the possibility of heart failure, heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, and stroke.

In England, when air pollution is at elevated levels, hospitals, and emergency rooms see an increase in cases of asthma, strokes, and cardiac arrests. PM10 and PM2.5 can also trigger dormant mutations that can lead to cancer.

Two years ago, the British Heart Foundation warned the public that neglecting air pollution can result in the early deaths of over 160,000 people in the next decade.

What happened in the Dieselgate scandal?

Vehicle emissions are common in the UK. It’s one of the major contributors to polluted air. Diesel vehicle emissions are especially popular because of the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal that erupted in 2015. The specific emission involved is nitrogen oxide or NOx, a group of gases with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO).

The Dieselgate scandal that made NOx a household name initially involved only one carmaker – the Volkswagen Group. Authorities in the US found out that VW allegedly used defeat devices in Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles sold in the American market. These devices can sense when a vehicle is about to be tested and they reduce emissions to levels that are within the legal limits. VW used the cheat devices so regulators would see their vehicles as emissions-compliant and ready for selling.

As soon as the vehicle is driven on real-world roads, however, the vehicle goes back to its default state, releasing excessively extreme amounts of NOx. Elevated levels of NOx can lead to adverse health impacts.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted immediately and sent VW an order to recall all affected vehicles. They’ve also had to pay fines and fees and have reached compensation agreements with several drivers over the years.

However, VW is not the only carmaker involved in the diesel emissions scandal. Mercedes-Benz, Renault, BMW, and Vauxhall have been added by authorities to the list of carmakers that produce high-polluting vehicles. Japanese carmaker Nissan has been accused of falsifying emissions test results as well.

The Nissan emissions scandal is just one of the many cases that continue to hound the automobile industry. Every year, one or two or several carmakers are added to the list.

All affected drivers are encouraged to bring their carmakers to court via a diesel claim. Authorities believe that this is the best way to hold carmakers responsible for exposing drivers to the negative impacts of NOx emissions.

These impacts include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, pulmonary oedema, and cancer. Anyone exposed to NOx can also develop dementia and experience incidences of depression and anxiety. The most serious health impacts of NOx exposure are cardiovascular disease and premature death.

Understanding my diesel claim

A diesel claim is a legal action against defeat device-using carmakers that exposed drivers (and the public) to harmful NOx emissions. It is your right to file a claim and receive compensation for the challenges that the defeat device has caused you.

You have to make sure that you are qualified to receive compensation, though. The best way to do this is to visit as they have all the information you need to push through with your claim.

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