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Researchers discovered relationship between heart disease and soil pollution

by Pragati Singh

Acording to a research article, pesticides and heavy metals in soil may be harmful to the cardiovascular system.

“Soil pollution is a less evident threat to human health than unclean air,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Thomas Munzel of the University Medical Center Mainz in Germany. “However, evidence is emerging that soil contaminants may harm cardiovascular health through a variety of ways, including inflammation and disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm.” Pollution of the air, water, and soil causes at least nine million fatalities per year. Cardiovascular illness, such as chronic ischemic heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and heart rhythm problems, account for more than 60% of pollution-related disease and mortality (arrhythmias).

This research examines the links between soil contamination and human health, with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease. Heavy metals, herbicides, and plastics are examples of soil contaminants. Contaminated soil, according to the scientists, may cause cardiovascular disease by raising oxidative stress in the blood vessels (with more “bad” free radicals and fewer “good” antioxidants), producing inflammation, and disrupting the biological clock (circadian rhythm).

Inhaling desert dust, fertiliser crystals, or plastic particles can all introduce dirt into the body. Heavy metals like cadmium and lead, plastics, and organic toxicants (found in pesticides, for example) may all be ingested orally. Soil contaminants pour into rivers, resulting in contaminated water that can be drank.

Pesticides are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. While individuals in the agricultural and chemical sectors are most vulnerable, the general population may be exposed to pesticides through contaminated food, soil, and water.

Disease Causing Components in Air

Cadmium is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in trace levels in air, water, soil, and food, as well as in industrial and agricultural processes. Nonsmokers get most of their cadmium from food. According to the research, population studies on the association between cadmium and cardiovascular illness have had conflicting results, and it cites a Korean study that found middle-aged Koreans with high blood cadmium had an increased risk of stroke and hypertension.

Lead is a naturally occurring hazardous metal that pollutes the environment through mining, smelting, manufacture, and recycling. High blood lead levels have been linked to cardiovascular illness in women and those with diabetes, including coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Further research has found that exposure to arsenic, a naturally occurring metalloid whose levels can rise owing to industrial activities and the use of tainted water to irrigate crops, increases the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

“Although soil pollution with heavy metals and its association with cardiovascular diseases is particularly a problem in low- and middle-income countries because their populations are disproportionately exposed to these environmental pollutants,” the paper states, “it has become a problem for any country in the world due to the increasing globalisation of food supply chains and uptake of these heavy metals with fruits, vegetables, and meat.”

The dangers of polluted airborne dust are mentioned. Desert dust may travel vast distances, and studies have linked particles from soil in China and Mongolia to an increased risk of heart attacks in Japan. The number of cardiovascular emergency room visits in Japan was 21% higher on days with high levels of Asian dust exposure.

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While no population studies on the cardiovascular health impacts of nano- and microplastics in humans have been conducted, research has revealed that these particles may enter the circulation and travel to the organs, where they can induce systemic inflammation and cardiometabolic illness.

According to Professor Munzel: “More research on the combined effect of multiple soil pollutants on cardiovascular disease is required, as we are rarely exposed to a single toxic agent. There is an urgent need for research into how nano- and microplastics may begin and aggravate cardiovascular disease. Wearing a face mask to minimise exposure to windblown dust, filtering water to eliminate toxins, and purchasing food cultivated in healthy soil seem prudent until we know more.”

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