The findings showed that short-term exposure to PM10 was significantly associated with elevated systolic blood pressure (the top number on a blood pressure reading) in young adults.
Long-term exposure to PM2.5, PM10 and nitrogen dioxide were also associated with elevated systolic levels as well as diastolic level (the bottom number on a blood pressure reading). The results are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
"Our analysis is the first to closely examine previous research to assess both the quality and magnitude of the associations between air pollution and blood pressure values among children and adolescents," said lead author Yao Lu, Professor of the Clinical Research Centre at the Third Xiangya Hospital at Central South University in Changsha, China.
"The findings provide evidence of a positive association between short- and long-term exposure to certain environmental air pollutants and blood pressure in children and adolescents," Lu said.
This systematic review and meta-analysis pooled information from 14 studies and included data for more than 350,000 children and adolescents (mean ages 5.4 to 12.7 years). The team explored the impact of long-term and/or short-term exposure of ambient air pollution on blood pressure levels of adolescents and/or children in China, US and Europe.
"To reduce the impact of environmental pollution on blood pressure in children and adolescents, efforts should be made to reduce their exposure to environmental pollutants," said Lu.
"Additionally, it is also very important to routinely measure blood pressure in children and adolescents, which can help us identify individuals with elevated blood pressure early," Lu noted.