Tiny airborne pollutants from power plants, cars, and trucks may be able to get through the lungs’ filter system and work their way into the bloodstream, new research suggest. Scientist at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. asked 14 healthy volunteers to inhale air-filled with harmless gold nano particles. They found that these nano particles were detectable in the participants’ blood within 15 minutes and were still in their blood and urine three months later. When the researcher then tested 12 people who were due to undergo surgery to clear blocked arteries, they found that the gold nano particles accumulated in the fatty plaques that grew inside the patients’ blood vessels. If the reactive compounds found in air pollution act in the same way, they could increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health issues. “There is no doubt that air pollution is a killer,” Jeremy person from the British Heart Foundation charity tells Reuters. Com. “This study brings us a step close to solving the mystery of how air pollution damages our cardiovascular health.”

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