PM Air Pollution and Clinical CVD Risk Factors

+ Kevin Cromar


Particulate Air Pollution and Clinical Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Epidemiology, 2016 Mar; 27(2):291-8.

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000426

Background: Long-term exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) air pollution is associated with increased cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, the impact of PM on clinical risk factors for CVD in healthy subjects is unclear. We examined the relationship of PM with levels of circulating lipids and blood pressure in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a large nationally representative US survey.

Methods: This study was based on 11,623 adult participants of NHANES III (1988-1994; median age 41.0). Serum lipids and blood pressure were measured during the NHANES III examination. Average exposure for 1988-1994 to particulate matter <10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) at the residences of participants was estimated based on measurements from US Environmental Protection Agency monitors. Multivariate linear regression was used to estimate the associations of PM10 with lipids and blood pressure.

Results: An interquartile range width increase in PM10 exposure (11.1 μg/m) in the study population was associated with 2.42% greater serum triglycerides (95% confidence interval: 1.09, 3.76); multivariate adjusted means of triglycerides according to increasing quartiles of PM10 were 137.6, 142.5, 142.6, and 148.9 mg/dl, respectively. An interquartile range width increase in PM10 was associated with 1.43% greater total cholesterol (95% confidence interval: 1.21, 1.66). These relationships with triglycerides and total cholesterol did not differ by age or region. Associations of PM10 with blood pressure were modest.

Conclusions: Findings from this large, diverse study indicate that greater long-term PM10 exposure is associated with elevated serum triglycerides and total cholesterol, potentially mediating air pollution-related effects on CVD.


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Kevin Cromar, Ph.D., is a program director at the Marron Institute of Urban Management and a Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Population Health at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

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