Heavy metals, pesticides, and plastics found in soil could be detrimental to heart health, a new study has found.

The team behind the findings have encouraged people to buy food grown in ‘healthy’ soil and wear a face mask around airborne dust outdoors.

The German researchers say that exposure to polluted soil increases oxidative stress in blood vessels; causes inflammation; and disrupts a person’s body clock – all of which can lead to cardiovascular disease.

Author Professor Thomas Münzel, from the University Medical Center Mainz, said: “Soil contamination is a less visible danger to human health than dirty air. But evidence is mounting that pollutants in soil may damage cardiovascular health through a number of mechanisms including inflammation and disrupting the body’s natural clock.”

It is believed that at least nine million deaths a year can be attributed to air, water and soil pollution. Cardiovascular disease accounts for more than 60% of disease and death linked to pollution, including heart attacks, heart disease and arrhythmias.

The study states: “Although soil pollution with heavy metals and its association with cardiovascular diseases is especially a problem low- and middle-income countries since their populations are disproportionately exposed to these environmental pollutants, it becomes a problem for any country in the world due to the increasing globalisation of food supply chains and uptake of these heavy metals with fruits, vegetables and meat.”

Professor Münzel went on to say: “More studies are needed on the combined effect of multiple soil pollutants on cardiovascular disease since we are rarely exposed to one toxic agent alone. Research is urgently required on how nano- and microplastic might initiate and exacerbate cardiovascular disease. Until we know more, it seems sensible to wear a face mask to limit exposure to windblown dust, filter water to remove contaminants, and buy food grown in healthy soil.”

The dangers of airborne dust – and the distance it can travel – has been highlighted, with research showing that soil particles from China and Mongolia were linked to an increased risk of heart attack in Japan. In addition, the number of A&E visits for cardiovascular events increased by 21% in Japan during periods when there were higher levels of Asian dust.

Read the study in full in the journal Cardiovascular Research.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Coronavirus: UK instructed to stay at home this weekend

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that staying at home this weekend…

Top diabetes professor drafts risk assessment document for frontline COVID-19 staff

The health and wellbeing of frontline NHS staff has been prioritised among…

Type 2 diabetes found to be a ‘significant risk factor’ among stroke victims

More evidence has been published which supports that diabetes is a “significant…