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Exposure to particulate matter from traffic and residential heating

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A study by researchers at the University of Tartu found that exposure to traffic-related particulate matter (PM) could be associated with cardiac diseases among people in the city of Tartu, Estonia, whereas PM from residential heating did not. Results of the study adds valuable information to the current knowledge as it they confirms the link between health effects and low-level PM, and association is different depending on the PM source. Results were published in the September 2016 edition of the journal The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.

Residential heating and traffic are two main sources of particulate matter (PM) in Northern European cities. Due to insufficient air flow and low combustion temperatures, several pollutants are produced from a log burning in residential wood stoves, like organic carbon, soot, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) etc. Air pollution from traffic includes exhaust particles, nitrogen oxides, black smoke,road dust from road abrasion and tire and brake wear and other pollutants. Short- and long-term exposure to fine (PM2.5) and coarse particles (PM2.5-10) are associated with cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity or mortality. Few studies have analyzed health effects differences from traffic and residential heating.

Self-reported health data from RHINE III (Respiratory Health in Northern Europe) study was used and it was linked to the 2012 annual and 2009?2012 average mean local heating induced PM2.5, traffic induced PM10, and all sources PM2.5 modelled concentrations inthe city of Tartu, Estonia.

"We found that traffic induced PM compared to residential heating induced PM associated more strongly with cardiac diseases.No significant associations were found with respiratory symptoms. PM modelling results show that traffic induced PM had higher concentration in the city of Tartu compared residential induced PM. Health effects were found in PM concentrations below limit values set by Estonian and EU legislation," said Mihkel Pindus, MSc, lead author of the study and PhD student with the University of Tartu.

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Co-authors are Hans Orru, PhD., Marek Maasikmets, MSc, Marko Kaasik, PhD,. and Rain Jõgi, M.D., PhD.

This study was financed by grants IUT20-11 and IUT34-17 from The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, and grant ETF8523 from The Estonian Science Foundation.

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