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Exhaust fumes might threaten people's hearts

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10:33am, September 26, 2007

Grimy diesel exhaust doesn't just stink up highways. The nanoparticles in diesel fumes also thwart proteins that dissolve blood clots, researchers have discovered, perhaps increasing the risk of heart attacks.

Studies had already shown that diesel fumes worsen cholesterol's ill effects (SN: 8/11/07, p. 93), and that people living in highly polluted areas are more likely to have heart attacks. David E. Newby of Edinburgh University and his colleagues decided to study the latter connection in a controlled environment: a chamber into which they could pump either filtered air or air contaminated with diesel exhaust.

"The diesel levels in the chamber are about what you'd expect at roadside in a busy city," says Newby.

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