Carbon Nanoparticles Increase Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke – TCD Scientist

Posted on: 11 May 2006

Carbon nanoparticles in air pollution, known as urban particulate matter, arising from industrial emissions may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases leading to heart attacks and strokes, according to Prof Marek Radomski, Chair of Pharmacology in Trinity College Dublin.

Speaking at his inaugural lecture on Thursday 11 May, Prof Radomski said “Nanoparticles – so tiny that they are measured in billionths of a metre – are very reactive and can easily gain access to the lungs and the bloodstream. Engineered nanoparticles such as liposomes, the metallic nanoparticles or carbon nanoparticles used in the computing, cosmetics and medical industries in Ireland may also become a part of urban particulate matter”.

“Our research has found that some carbon nanoparticles unintentionally, ie air pollution, or intentionally generated by man, ie those which are engineered, cause blood clotting. The presence of carbon nanoparticles in our environment may increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke”.

In 1990 the Irish Government banned the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coals in Dublin city.  This resulted in a 10.3% reduction in cardiovascular deaths in Dublin, an observation reported by Prof Luke Clancy and colleagues from TCD.

With Ireland’s growing economy, increased energy demand and expanding nanotechnology, there is a likelihood of nanoparticle presence in the environment. Prof Radomski stressed that more research is needed in order to properly assess potential risks of “the nanoparticle threat” if any, of this exciting and promising technology. “A careful balancing of the benefit / risk ratio is in the best interest of the public, legislator and the nanotechnological industry”, he stated.

“The toxicology of engineered nanoparticles is still in its infancy and the level of public exposure remains uncertain. Both Irish and European regulations only require monitoring particulate matter at least one hundred times bigger than nanoparticles. However, given the notoriously toxic character of larger-size particulate matter, the extra vigilance is well advised”, Prof Radomski concluded.

A scientist of international repute and highly cited author, Prof. Radomski obtained his M.D. in 1978 and his PhD in Pharmacology in 1983 at the Copernicus Academy of Medicine in Krakow, Poland. This was followed in 1990 by a D.Sc. from the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland. From 1989-1993 he was a Senior Scientist at the Wellcome Research Laboratories, Kent, England, and at the same time was Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Medicine at King’s College School of Medicine & Dentistry, London. In 1993 he served as Head of the Nitric Oxide Research Group at the Wellcome Research Laboratories and in 1994 was appointed Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Alberta, Canada. In 1998 he became Director of Research and Development at Lacer SA in Barcelona, Spain and from 2002-5 was Professor at the Center for Vascular Biology in the Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases at the University of Texas, Houston, USA.

In recognition of his distinguished career Prof. Radomski has received many honours and international awards. He is also the author of highly cited pharmacological papers ( : search: radomski), on occasion co-authored by his wife Anna Radomski, M.D.