Washington: Long-term exposure to household air pollution from lighting, cooking or heating with fuels, such as kerosene or diesel, may increase the risk of heart attacks and death, researchers including one of Indian-origin have warned.
Burning cleaner fuels, such as natural gas, was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular deaths, researchers found. According to the World Health Organisation, one-half of the world's population lives in poverty and burns fuels for lighting, cooking and heating purposes.
"We know that smoking tobacco products and outside air pollution are linked to heart disease death," said Sumeet Mitter, lead researcher from Northwestern University in the US.
"Our study, using exposure history and time, is the first to find a significant and independent increased risk for all-cause, total cardiovascular disease and heart attack deaths due to increasing lifetime exposures to household air pollution from kerosene or diesel burning," said Mitter.
Researchers measured exposure from indoor pollution generated from burning kerosene, wood, diesel, cow dung and natural gas in an observational study of a community in northeastern Iran from 2004 to 2008.
Of the 50,045 study participants (average age 52 at enrolment) 58 per cent were female. Most study participants were of Turkmen ancestry (74 per cent) and lived in rural areas (80 per cent).
Participants completed lifestyle questionnaires that tabulated exposure to household fuels for cooking and heating throughout their lives. Blood pressure and other body measurements were regularly documented.
They found that participants who burned kerosene or diesel had a 6 per cent higher risk of dying from all causes during a 10-year period, 11 per cent increased risk of cardiovascular death, and 14 per cent increase in ischemic (clot-caused) heart disease.
Conversely, those who used natural gas had a 6 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular death compared to other fuels. "Since heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, it is important for physicians to assess for a number of modifiable risk factors for heart disease, including household air pollution, so that they can intervene and help patients and communities worldwide transition to cleaner burning fuels and reduce the risk for cardiovascular death," said Mitter.
The findings were published in the journal journal Circulation.