Instead of giving power plants in each state the same pollution guidelines, the government’s new Clear Skies Initiative will let them “buy and sell” emissions. This means that older plants can put off installing expensive new equipment by purchasing emissions allowances from newer, less polluting plants. Older cities already have the most air pollution, partly due to their older power plants, and this means they will remain more dangerous places to live. And now researchers have discovered that long-term exposure to the particulates in air pollution causes heart disease, as well as respiratory problems.

A new study collected data from 1982-1998 about cardiovascular deaths, and compared it to data on air pollution from 156 cities. They found that an increase in air particles increased the risk of overall heart disease by 12%. For the most common type of heart attacks, the risk was increased 18%.

Epidemiologist C. Arden Pope III writes in the Journal of the American Heart Association that, “While we know that air pollution is not the dominant cause of [heart disease], these results are consistent with findings that air pollution provokes inflammation, accelerates atherosclerosis, and alters cardiac function. We might be able to reduce the underlying processes of some cardiovascular disease just by reducing the exposure to air pollutants.”

There’s a lot going on that doctors don’t tell you.

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