UK researchers have used animal studies to understand the detrimental effects of specific fuel pollutants on heart function.
Pollution is already a known risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
However, the research, led by EARA member the University of Manchester and funded by the British Heart Foundation, focused on understanding the health effects of specific pollutants, called polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), found in various fuels derived from crude oil.
The findings, in Environmental Health Perspectives, revealed that one of these pollutants disrupted the heart function in sea fish, that had been exposed to pollution, due to an ocean crude oil spill.
Further investigations, using zebrafish and mice, delved into why these pollutants are toxic to the heart and make it more prone to arrhythmias.
Holly Shiels, from the University of Manchester, explained the significance of the animal research: "Due to the conserved nature of cardiac function among animals, fish exposed to PAH from oil spills can serve as sentinels, providing insights into the human health impacts of PAHs."