Most people think of lung health, not the cardiovascular system, when the topic of air pollution comes up. New research is revealing that air pollution has a direct impact on heart health. According to Penn State College of Medicine researchers, breathing polluted air adds stress to the heart’s regulation capacity, even six hours after inhalation of the polluted air. Professor of public health sciences, Duanping Liao, explained that the particulates found in polluted are can contribute to cadiovascular disease. “Air pollution is associated with cardiopulmonary mortality and morbidity, and it is generally accepted that impaired heart electrophysiology is one of the underlying mechanisms,” explained Fan He, master’s program graduate, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. “This impairment is exhibited through fluctuations in the heart rate from beat to beat over an established period of time, known as heart rate variability. It is also exhibited through a longer period for the electric activity to return to the baseline, known as ventricular repolarization.” “The time course, how long it would take from exposure to cardiac response, has not been systematically investigated,” said Fan He. “We conducted this study to investigate the relationship between particle matter and heart electrophysiology impairment, especially the time course.” The primary pollutant is PM2.5, which refers to air bone particulate that is 2.5 micrometers in size and comes mainly from deisel engines and coal burning. “Our findings may contribute to further understanding of the pathophysiology of air pollution-related cardiac events, specifically our results indicating elevated PM2.5 exposure is associated with immediate disturbance of cardiac electrical activities within six hours after exposure,” said Liao.