Pesticides, Heavy Metal Soil Pollution May Increase Cardiovascular Risks: Study
New research suggests that exposure to pollutants in the soil can pose a significant risk to human health; particularly the heart.
Exposure to soil polluted with pesticides and heavy metals may increase an individual’s risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease, according to findings of a study published late last month in the medical journal Cardiovascular Research.
German researchers evaluated existing studies that focused on soil pollutants and any potential link to heart disease or cardiovascular outcomes. Prior research has linked pesticides to increased risk of heart disease and exposure to heavy metals to high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as heart attack and stroke. Other studies have also linked arsenic to increased risk of heart disease and cadmium exposure to high blood pressure.
Soil Pollution Poses Increasing Risk
The new report aggregated the findings of multiple studies, indicating exposure to pollutants in the soil, which can range from organic chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals like cadmium, biological pathogens, microplastics and nanoplastics, can lead to increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and heart rhythm disorders, including disrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Soil pollution is not as obvious as air pollution, making it a less highlighted risk to human health. However, it is considered a growing threat.
Pollution reduces the soil’s ability to yield food, it can contaminate crops, lead to disease, wash into rivers leading to water pollution, and can be carried for miles in the residue of dust. The problem is especially prevalent for low- and middle-income countries, the researchers noted. Those residents are disproportionately exposed to soil pollutants, worsening their health outcomes.
Air, water, and soil pollution are responsible for at least 9 million deaths each year. More than 60% of pollution-related disease and death is due to cardiovascular disease. More so, a recent study indicated at least one-third of the American population is regularly exposed to harmful pesticides.
Toxic Side Effects of Heavy Metals from Soil Pollution
Cadmium exposure is linked to increased risk of stroke and hypertension. Lead can affect not only the brain, but also the heart, leading to cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. Arsenic also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The American Academy of Pediatricians warns that any level of lead exposure is unsafe for developing children.
Following recent discoveries that many different types of popular baby food products have been contaminated with unsafe levels of cadmium, arsenic and lead, Democratic recently lawmakers introduced new legislation designed to place limits on the amount of heavy metals in baby foods, and manufacturers face a growing number of toxic baby food lawsuits that allege children were left with autism, ADHD and other injuries.
More research is needed to determine the combined effects of multiple soil pollutants and the link to cardiovascular disease, researchers said.
Researchers in this latest study recommended wearing a face mask during exposure to windblown dust, using a water filter on drinking water and buying food grown in uncontaminated soil as first steps to preventing the side effects of soil pollution which may pose to human health.
The study also calls for a more global, coordinated response to environmental health threats.
“Along with climate change, air pollution, and species extinction, soil pollution represents an existential threat to the sustainability of human societies,” the researchers concluded. “All of these forms of environmental degradation are ultimately the consequence of short-term economic thinking and greed that have no respect for natural systems and no concern either for other people today or for future generations.”
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