Diabetics: Don’t Breathe the Air

According to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, particulate pollution can be directly linked to increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems and major heart failure in diabetics. The study, led by Harvard professor of environmental epidemiology Joel Schwartz, was published last June in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association (see "Bad Air Days," Features, November/December 1999).

In the metro-Boston area where the study took place, as well as in metropolitan regions across the U.S., particulate pollution is a daily concern due to high volumes of automobile traffic and other sources, such as coal-fired power plants. According to EPA’s "Green Vehicle Guide," diesel engines emit 16 times more particulates than gasoline engines, although standards set for 2007 should lessen the problem.

In the meantime, Schwartz recommends that diabetics stay indoors on especially bad air days (you can look up the forecast for your area at www.epa.gov/airnow/where/index.html).