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Heart Health

The dirt on soil and water pollution

October 1, 2022

Heavy metals, pesticides, and microplastics may affect your risk for cardiovascular disease. Can you limit your exposure to these toxins?

photo illustration of a running faucet next to a section of the periodic table with the element lead highlighted by a magnifying glass

The word "pollution" often conjures up clouds of noxious gases billowing from a factory smokestack or vehicle tail­pipe. But while many people are now aware of air pollution’s harmful effect on cardiovascular health, the impact of soil and water pollution remains largely unrecognized.

A review article published online June 30, 2022, by Cardiovascular Research details the main contaminants found in soil and water and the threats they pose to the cardiovascular system. "We wrote this paper to encourage cardiologists to consider environmental factors that might affect their patients’ risk," says co-author Dr. Philip Landrigan, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an affiliate in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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