Indoor Air Purifiers May Help the Heart

JACC in a Flash | Fine particulate matter air pollution has proven to be significantly associated with increased cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality. However, new data published June 2 in JACC finds that reducing the amount of these particles indoors with air purifiers may have cardiopulmonary benefits.

In this randomized, double-blind crossover study, 35 healthy college students living in dormitories in Shanghai, China, were observed. The students were randomized into two groups alternating the use of true or sham air purifiers for 48 hours with a 2-week washout interval. The particulate matter concentration in the rooms with a true air purifier was 57% lower than the rooms with the sham purifier.

Indoor air purification led to a significant geometric decrease of several circulating inflammatory and thrombogenic biomarkers, including 17.5% in monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, 68.1% in interleukin-1b, 32.8% in myeloperoxidase, and 64.9% in soluble CD40 ligand. There was a 2.7% decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 4.8% decrease in diastolic blood pressure. Fractional exhaled nitrous oxide was reduced by 17%. There was also indication of improved—but not statistically significant—lung function.

China has one of the highest levels of ambient fine particulate matter in the world, contributing to an estimated 1.2 million deaths and a loss of 24 million healthy years. According to the study authors, short-term indoor air purification may have modest cardiovascular benefits for young, healthy adults exposed to severe particulate air pollution and hypothesize that greater benefits may be seen in more vulnerable populations such as young children or older adults. There is also potential for greater benefits over a longer period of time. They add that “the use of air purifiers offers ordinary citizens a feasible and affordable way to reduce exposure to hazardous air pollution in a highly polluted developing country, such as China, leading to significant public health benefits.”

In an accompanying editorial, Sanjay Rajagopalan, MD, and Robert D. Brook, MD, write that the improvement of outdoor air quality is needed to change the indoor air quality in the cities of China and India. “In the meantime, personalized behavioral and small-scale interventions to lower exposures (e.g., filters in homes and cars) may be needed in order to optimally protect citizens in these areas.”


  1. Chen R, Zhao A, Chen H, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(21):2279-87.
  2. Rajagopalan S, Brook R. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(21):2288-90.

Keywords: CardioSource WorldNews, ACC Publications, Air Filters, Air Pollution, Morbidity, Particulate Matter

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