Air Clean Up

  • Is Pollution More Dangerous for Certain Blood Types?

Is Pollution More Dangerous for Certain Blood Types?

Dec 26 2017 Read 1342 Times

A new study encompassing 14 years’ worth of data from a medical centre in the United States has found that certain blood types may be more susceptible to medical complications as a result of air pollution than others.

Analysing the records from Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Utah, the researchers found that those with blood type A, B or AB were more at risk of developing heart conditions and chest pains as a result of inhaling contaminated air.

In the blood

A team of investigators from the Utah Institute surveyed patient data from a 14-year period and concluded that those with type A, B or AB blood were 50% more likely to suffer chest pains or heart attacks when exposed to high levels of particulate matter (PM) concentration.

Those with type O blood, meanwhile, were only 40% more susceptible to developing a coronary complication in the same conditions. Furthermore, the risk increased by 25% for every 10ug/m3 above 20ug/m3 in A, B and AB blood types, while it was only a 10% hike for O blood types subjected to the same conditions.

Scientists and medical professionals have long known that there is a link between poor air quality and heart conditions - one recent study even suggested that "safe" levels of pollution could cause heart attacks – but this is the first time that an investigation has found a direct correlation with blood type, as well.

O is the most common blood type with roughly 45% of the population, but the three others together still make up the majority of the populace (55%). Their blood is thought to be more susceptible to damage from particulate matter because it contains higher amounts of a specific clotting agent.

Staying safe

The news should be taken as a warning for UK residents with those particular blood types, since the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently found that 44 towns and cities across the country regularly suffered from unhealthy levels of PM concentration.

Port Talbot and Stanford-le-Hope were the top two polluted urban locales in the survey, while Glasgow, Leeds, London and Scunthorpe were not far behind. The UK capital has repeatedly fallen foul of EU regulations on air quality, prompting environmentalists and concerned parties to lobby the government to improve air quality and reduce transport-related pollution. Environmental law firm ClientEarth has even taken the Conservatives to court on two occasions – and won both times.

Short of waiting for the authorities to take proactive measures to tackle the problem, there are certain steps that individuals can take to limit their exposure to the harmful toxins. “The association between heart attacks and pollution in patients with non-O blood isn't something to panic over, but it is something to be aware of,” explained Dr Benjamin Horne, lead author on the study.

“In the information we provide to our patients about pollution, we try to stress that they can do something about it to reduce their risks: Stay indoors out of pollution. Exercise indoors.”

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