Medical researchers at the University of Edinburgh say that chemical particles (a.k.a. particulates) existing in the tailpipe of diesel-fueled vehicles can significantly increase the risk of heart attack in healthy adults.
The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, showed that particulates impair the ability of small blood vessels to direct flow to organs, including the heart.
Of course, particulates can be reduced by using a urea-based system (commonly referred to as selective catalyst reduction, or SCR), but these complex units are not commonly found on older diesel-fueled vehicles.
Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, says:
Our research shows that while both gases and particles can affect our blood pressure, it is actually the minuscule chemical particles … that are really harmful. These particles produce highly reactive molecules called free radicals that can injure our blood vessels and lead to vascular disease; … in the future we can try and remove these chemicals, and prevent the health effects of vehicle emissions.
So, until the release of particulates is no more, Pearson advises that “people with heart disease should avoid spending long periods outside or in areas where traffic pollution is likely to be high.” Easier said than done, maybe, but there you go.