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Inhaled particles damage vascular lining

Though arteries and veins move large flows of blood around the body, tinier vessels called arterioles distribute blood to the capillaries in tissues. To regulate this microflow minute to minute according to tissues' needs, arterioles continually dilate and constrict. An animal experiment now indicates that breathing soot and other airborne particles compromises the arterioles' capacity to dilate.

The finding, reported in Pittsburgh in October at the Society of Environmental Journalists annual meeting, offers one explanation for epidemiological studies that have linked cardiovascular disease and polluted air (SN: 8/2/03, p. 72: Air Sickness).

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