In a new study from Columbia University, researchers found acrolein, crotonaldehyde, and styrene, compounds found in everything from cigarette smoke to plastics, were linked to higher blood pressure.
They examined the relationship between exposure to so-called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and blood pressure among 778 nonsmokers.
VOCs are gases given off by many common items, such as cleaning products, paint, cigarettes, vehicle exhaust, pesticides, and other substances.
Exposure to VOCs has been linked to ear, nose, and throat irritation; headache; nausea; nervous system damage; and cancer.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, studies show indoor levels of VOCs are consistently higher than those outdoors.
Exposure to fine particulate matter, such as pollution from car engines, is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But the heart health impacts of non-particulate VOCs are less clear.
In the study, researchers used urine tests to detect metabolites from 17 VOCs. Metabolites are the byproducts when the body breaks down a substance.
They found metabolites of acrolein and crotonaldehyde were linked to an increase in systolic blood pressure of 1.5 mmHg (milligrams of mercury) and 1.1 mmHg, respectively.
Styrene metabolite was linked to an increase in diastolic blood pressure of 0.5 mmHg. After further analysis, the effects of the crotonaldehyde and styrene were seen only in men.
The team says if you have a community of people with higher exposures and blood pressure versus another community, then that collectively elevates the population’s risk of heart attacks, stroke, and kidney disease, all of which are affected by blood pressure.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s virtual Scientific Sessions conference. One author of the study is Katlyn E. McGraw.
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