University of Edinburgh researchers tested the inflammatory and blood clotting responses of immune, umbilical cord and lung cells, six and 24 hours after exposure to particulate matter.
The study found clotting factors, which thicken the blood, were enhanced in almost all the cell types and exposure to the pollutants boosted inflammatory activity.
The authors suggest particulate matter has the ability to alter cell function so that it promotes thickening or coagulation of the blood.
The findings, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, might help explain why air pollution is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and worsening respiratory problems.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]