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Jun 2, 2005 | A study of Boston area residents conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (one of the National Institutes of Health) suggests that diabetics may be at higher risk for cardiovascular problems when they are exposed to elevated levels of air pollution from vehicular traffic and coal-burning power plants.

It appears that ability of blood vessels to control blood flow is adversely affected most by sulfate particles (from coal-burning power plants) and ultra-fine particles and back carbon soot (generated by diesel and gasoline engines).

Previous studies have found that elevated levels of air pollution are linked to higher rates of hospitalization and death from cardiovascular problems in people with diabetes. This study found, that on days when sulfate particle levels were elevated, vascular reactivity was 11% lower in the test subjects with diabetes. On days when the levels of black carbon were higher than normal, the diabetics showed a 13% decrease in their vascular reactivity. The findings appear in the June issue of the journal Circulation.

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