Is Particulate Matter Associated with Cardiovascular Disease Morbidity/Mortality?

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There is considerable literature indicating a link between particulate matter and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, especially in elderly individuals (Koken, et al, 2003). Particulate matter defined as any particle that measures less than or equal to ten micrometers (< 10µm PM10) or two point five micrometers(< 2.5µm PM2.5) that form from solid particles and liquid droplets. Most particulate matter forms due to vehicle admissions, industrials processes or wood burnings. Additionally, it has also been suggested that ultra fine particulate matter measuring less than or equal to 2.5 µm is considered more harmful to health than are larger particles in aerodynamic diameter because PM2.5 can penetrate deeper into the lung
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While the majority of the observational studies reported significant effects of cardiovascular events in association with particulate matter concentrations, the timing between a reduction in long-term exposure to air pollution and the possible reduction in the occurrence of cardiovascular events may not be sufficiently long (Tonne, et al, 2010).
More recently, studies have begun to assess the effects of air pollution on cardiovascular health over longer periods. The intent is to deliver more vigorous estimates of health outcomes with greater contrast in changes in air pollution (Tonne, et al, 2010). While the majority of the studies performed used secondary data sources to compare adverse events with data from air-pollution monitoring stations, two of the studies performed recruited participants to examine results from exposure of particulate matter and the incidence of occurrence of cardiovascular events. These two studies used heart rate variability (HRV) compared with particulate matter concentrations and climate changes specifically. Only one found marginal significance in the association of adverse cardiovascular events. The remainder of the studies did either a time series analysis,

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