Scientists from the University Medical Center Mainz found that pesticides and heavy metals in soil may have detrimental effects on the heart system.
The research is published in Cardiovascular Research and was conducted by Professor Thomas Münzel et al.
Pollution of air, water and soil is responsible for at least nine million deaths each year.
More than 60% of pollution-related disease and death is due to heart disease such as chronic ischemic heart disease, heart attack, stroke and heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias).
Soil pollutants include heavy metals, pesticides, and plastics.
In the study, the team found dirty soil may enter the body through inhalation of desert dust, fertilizer crystals, or plastic particles.
Heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, plastics, and organic toxicants (for example in pesticides) can also be consumed orally. Soil pollutants wash into rivers and create dirty water that may be consumed.
The team says that contaminated soil may lead to cardiovascular disease by increasing oxidative stress in the blood vessels (with more “bad” free radicals and fewer “good” antioxidants), by causing inflammation, and by disturbing the body clock (circadian rhythm).
Pesticides have been linked with an elevated risk of heart disease.
While employees in the agricultural and chemical industries face the greatest exposure, the general public may ingest pesticides from contaminated food, soil and water.
Cadmium is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in small amounts in air, water, soil and food, and also comes from industrial and agricultural sources. Food is the main source of cadmium in non-smokers.
Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal with environmental contamination through mining, smelting, manufacturing and recycling.
Studies have found associations between high blood lead levels and cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke, in women and in people with diabetes.
Further studies have indicated a higher risk of death from heart disease linked to exposure to arsenic, a naturally occurring metalloid whose levels can increase due to industrial processes and using contaminated water to irrigate crops.
The team says more research is needed on the combined effect of multiple soil pollutants on heart disease since we are rarely exposed to one toxic agent alone.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about new way to repair human heart, and hormone that could help reduce irregular heartbeat, inflammation.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about simple exercise that could strongly benefit people with heart problems, and results showing one cup of these vegetables a day can lower heart disease risk.
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