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Cardiovascular health effects of wearing a particulate-filtering respirator to reduce particulate matter exposure: a randomized crossover trial


This randomized crossover trial sought to determine whether wearing a high-efficiency particulate-filtering respirator (PFR) improves cardiovascular function over 48 h among healthy college students in Tehran. This trial was conducted from February 14th to 23rd, 2019 and twenty-six participants completed two 48-h intervention periods. Brachial blood pressure (BP) measured by 24-h ambulatory monitoring was the primary health outcome. Secondary outcomes included 48-h heart rate variability (HRV) indices, high-sensitive cardiac troponin (hs-TnT) and other biomarkers. The participants wore the PFR between 10.2 and 11.1 h while awake during the interventions. More than 80% of participants reported increased respiratory resistance while wearing the PFR due to a lack of an exhalation valve. There were no significant differences in brachial BP levels between subjects who wore PFR respirator and those did not. Except for high frequency (HF) power and heart rate (HR), no significant differences between interventions were observed for other HRV metrics. Wearing the PFR led to an increase of 66.0 ms2 (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.6–110.5) and 79.6 ms2 (95% CI, 19.0–140.1) in HF power during the first day when the two groups of participants wore the PFR. Night-time HR was significantly increased during the PFR intervention period. Other secondary outcomes were not significantly different between interventions. It is plausible that incomplete exposure reduction due to wearing the PFR less than half of the time or increased respiratory resistance mitigated potential health benefits. Additional trials are warranted to validate the CV protection of wearing PFRs in heavily-polluted cities.

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We thank the participants, the Exceptional Talents Development Center for Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Institute for Environmental Research (IER) of Tehran University of Medical Sciences and the very supportive staff at Tehran Heart Center.


This study was financially supported by the Iran National Science Foundation (INSF) (grant number: 97011909). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kazem Naddafi or Saeed Sadeghian.

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Faridi, S., Brook, R.D., Hassanvand, M.S. et al. Cardiovascular health effects of wearing a particulate-filtering respirator to reduce particulate matter exposure: a randomized crossover trial. J Hum Hypertens 36, 659–669 (2022).

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