Air Filters and Heart DiseaseJanuary 24, 2011 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Sometimes knowing too many details can be maddening. If you’ve seen newspaper or television exposes about the astronomical number of germs found on everyday objects (doorknobs, money, restaurant menus, telephones, TV remote controls, etc.) you probably know what I mean. Or perhaps you’ve stumbled across science programs that provide a microscopic view of what’s actually living in the carpeting of average households. Do we really need to know all of this?! I don’t know about you, but I’d rather just know a few practical ways that minimize the risks associated with the colorful microbes and organisms present in the examples above. So rather than frighten you with the details about what’s floating around in the air in our households, I’ll just tell you about a practical way to improve indoor air quality.
By now, we’re all well aware of the damaging effects of second-hand smoke. So too do we understand that outdoor air pollution can wreak havoc on pulmonary function in adults and children alike. But what’s less known is that indoor air pollution contributes to many of the leading causes of mortality in the modern world. What makes this form of pollution all the more insidious is that it can’t been seen like a layer of smog along the skyline. However, it can be seen quite clearly in the medical literature. A growing body of evidence clearly points to a profound effect of “exposure to particulate matter” and cardiovascular-related health conditions and mortality throughout the world. (1,2,3,4,5)
A new publication in the the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine supports a preventive health strategy that I’ve long since endorsed: the use of high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters to improve indoor air quality. The study in question enrolled 45 healthy adults in a randomized, crossover intervention study. On two-occasions, the participants were exposed to 7-days of filtered or non-filtered air. Various tests pertaining to endothelial function, inflammation and oxidative stress were performed throughout the different stages of the trial. Here’s what the researchers discovered:
- The HEPA filters reduced indoor fine particulate concentrations by 60% and woodsmoke by 75%.
- C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, decreased by 32.6% during the air filtration period.
- An indicator of endothelial function (reactive hyperemia index) improved by 9.4% in the HEPA leg of the study.
This particular study employed two types of HEPA filters – a larger, more powerful model (Honeywell 5300) in the primary room of each household and a quieter, smaller version (Honeywell 18150) in the bedrooms. One of the co-authors of the trial, Dr. Ryan Allen, concluded that: “Our results support the hypothesis that systemic inflammation and impaired endothelial function, both predictors of cardiovascular morbidity, can be favorably influenced by a reduction of particle concentration and add to a growing body of evidence linking short-term exposure to particulate matter with a systemic inflammatory response”. (6,7)
How Air Pollution Damages Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Health
Source: Particle and Fibre Toxicology 2009, 6:24 (link)
When I suggest using air filters to my clients, some of them initially express a certain degree of hesitation. The reasons vary from aesthetic issues to cost to excessive noise. There’s not a great deal that I can offer with regard to the appearance of air filters. My best advice is to simply put them away or move them to another room when guests come to visit. The cost of buying and maintaining basic HEPA filters is very modest. I can assure you that drinking purified water costs considerably more annually and may not afford you greater health benefits. The noise issue can be dealt with by using smaller filtration devices or just turning them on only when you’re not home or occupying a room. This isn’t the ideal way to use them, but it still offers some degree of protection. On the other hand, some people actually find the “white noise” produced by HEPA air purifiers rather soothing. Individual reactions to these health devices vary, but there is always a solution for any conceivable reservation one might have. And to my mind, it’s worth finding a way to use HEPA filtration in your household. I’m confident that future studies, such as the one I highlighted today, will continue to reveal valuable health benefits that are mostly unattainable otherwise.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Circulation, Inflammation, Lung
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Detoxification, Heart Health