Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Department of Family Medicine

Posted in Research

Person: Masako Morishita

Masako Morishita, PhD, was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine journal, where she and her team discuss how air filtration systems can protect against fine particulate matter.

Co-investigators on this multidisciplinary project include Drs. Robert Brook, Sara Adar, and Catherine Spino from University of Michigan; and Dr. Rosemary Ziemba at Community Health Nursing.

Numerous studies have shown that exposure to PM2.5 air pollution increases risks for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and heart failure and for adverse respiratory effects such as asthma.  Experts estimate that roughly 88,000 deaths per year in the US are due to PM2.5.  As the American Heart Association recognizes PM2.5 air pollution as a modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factor, and there is a growing need to minimize the exposure risks particularly for vulnerable populations, they tested the effectiveness of two relatively inexpensive, commercially available air filtration systems to reduce PM2.5 exposures among older adults in a low-income senior residence in a typical urban US environment (Detroit, Michigan).

Their clinical trial showed that indoor air filtration systems significantly reduced PM2.5 exposures measured at the personal-level by participants wearing monitors.  They also showed for the first time in the US that a reduction in PM2.5 exposures can lead to a decrease in systolic blood pressure by around 3-4 mm Hg, an amount similar to other lifestyle treatments for hypertension such exercise.  Given that a 1-mmHg reduction in mean population systolic blood pressure could prevent an estimated 10,000 coronary heart disease deaths each year in US alone, and hypertension is the leading risk factor for death worldwide, they indicated that much larger trials are warranted to test whether air filtration units can play an important role in helping to prevent cardiovascular disease worldwide.

This study was supported by research grant R01NR014484 from the National Institute of Nursing Research.

Related links:

Air filters to curb indoor pollution tied to blood pressure improvement – Reuters

Particulate matter: Air filters lower blood pressure in clinical trial – Aerzteblatt