Accumulating evidence suggests that outdoor air pollution may have a significant impact on central nervous system (CNS) health and disease. To address this issue, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institute of Health convened a panel of research scientists that was assigned the task of identifying research gaps and priority goals essential for advancing this growing field and addressing an emerging human health concern. Here, we review recent findings that have established the effects of inhaled air pollutants in the brain, explore the potential mechanisms driving these phenomena, and discuss the recommended research priorities/approaches that were identified by the panel.
Air pollution; brain; particulate matter; ozone; central nervous system; susceptibility; epidemiology; neuroinflammation; neurotoxicity; behavior
Background: Studies estimating health effects of long-term air pollution exposure often use a two-stage approach: building exposure models to assign individual-level exposures, which are then used in regression analyses. This requires accurate exposure modeling and careful treatment of exposure measurement error.
Objective: To illustrate the importance of accounting for exposure model characteristics in two-stage air pollution studies, we considered a case study based on data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Methods: We built national spatial exposure models that used partial least squares and universal kriging to estimate annual average concentrations of four PM2.5 components: elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC), silicon (Si), and sulfur (S). We predicted PM2.5 component exposures for the MESA cohort and estimated cross-sectional associations with carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), adjusting for subject-specific covariates. We corrected for measurement error using recently developed methods that account for the spatial structure of predicted exposures.
Results: Our models performed well, with cross-validated R2 values ranging from 0.62 to 0.95. Naïve analyses that did not account for measurement error indicated statistically significant associations between CIMT and exposure to OC, Si, and S. EC and OC exhibited little spatial correlation, and the corrected inference was unchanged from the naïve analysis. The Si and S exposure surfaces displayed notable spatial correlation, resulting in corrected confidence intervals (CIs) that were 50% wider than the naïve CIs, but that were still statistically significant.
Conclusion: The impact of correcting for measurement error on health effect inference is concordant with the degree of spatial correlation in the exposure surfaces. Exposure model characteristics must be considered when performing two-stage air pollution epidemiologic analyses because naïve health effect inference may be inappropriate.
Citation: Bergen S, Sheppard L, Sampson PD, Kim SY, Richards M, Vedal S, Kaufman JD, Szpiro AA. 2013. A national prediction model for PM2.5 component exposures and measurement error–corrected health effect inference. Environ Health Perspect 121:1017–1025; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1206010
Current day concentrations of ambient air pollution have been associated with a range of adverse health effects, particularly mortality and morbidity due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. In this review, we summarize the evidence from epidemiological studies on long-term exposure to fine and coarse particles, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and elemental carbon on mortality from all-causes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. We also summarize the findings on potentially susceptible subgroups across studies. We identified studies through a search in the databases Medline and Scopus and previous reviews until January 2013 and performed a meta-analysis if more than five studies were available for the same exposure metric.
There is a significant number of new studies on long-term air pollution exposure, covering a wider geographic area, including Asia. These recent studies support associations found in previous cohort studies on PM2.5. The pooled effect estimate expressed as excess risk per 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 exposure was 6% (95% CI 4, 8%) for all-cause and 11% (95% CI 5, 16%) for cardiovascular mortality. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 was more associated with mortality from cardiovascular disease (particularly ischemic heart disease) than from non-malignant respiratory diseases (pooled estimate 3% (95% CI −6, 13%)). Significant heterogeneity in PM2.5 effect estimates was found across studies, likely related to differences in particle composition, infiltration of particles indoors, population characteristics and methodological differences in exposure assessment and confounder control. All-cause mortality was significantly associated with elemental carbon (pooled estimate per 1 μg/m3 6% (95% CI 5, 7%)) and NO2 (pooled estimate per 10 μg/m3 5% (95% CI 3, 8%)), both markers of combustion sources. There was little evidence for an association between long term coarse particulate matter exposure and mortality, possibly due to the small number of studies and limitations in exposure assessment. Across studies, there was little evidence for a stronger association among women compared to men. In subjects with lower education and obese subjects a larger effect estimate for mortality related to fine PM was found, though the evidence for differences related to education has been weakened in more recent studies.
Air pollution; Mortality; Motorized traffic; Cardiovascular; Respiratory; Particles
Exposure to traffic-related air pollution is associated with risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. We examined whether exposure to diesel exhaust increased blood pressure in human subjects.
We analyzed data from 45 nonsmoking subjects, age 18–49 in double-blinded, crossover exposure studies, randomized to order. Each subject was exposed to diesel exhaust, maintained at 200 μg/m3 of fine particulate matter, and filtered air for 120 minutes on days separated by at least two weeks. We measured blood pressure pre-exposure, at 30-minute intervals during exposure, and 3, 5, 7 and 24 hours from exposure initiation, and analyzed changes from pre-exposure values.
Compared with filtered air, systolic blood pressure increased at all points measured during and after diesel exhaust exposure; the mean effect peaked between 30 and 60 minutes after exposure initiation (3.8 mmHg [95% CI: −0.4, 8.0] and 5.1 mmHg [95% CI: 0.7, 9.5] respectively). Sex and metabolic syndrome did not modify this effect. Combining readings between 30 and 90 minutes, diesel exhaust exposure resulted in a 4.4 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure, adjusted for participant characteristics and exposure perception (95% CI: 1.1, 7.7, p=0.0009). There was no significant effect on heart rate or diastolic pressure.
Diesel exhaust inhalation was associated with a rapid, measurable increase in systolic, but not diastolic, blood pressure in young nonsmokers, independent of perception of exposure. This controlled trial in humans confirms findings from observational studies. The effect may be important on a population basis given the worldwide prevalence of exposure to traffic-related air pollution.
Air pollution; diesel exhaust; cardiovascular; blood pressure; autonomic nervous system
Concentrations of outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) have been associated with cardiovascular disease. PM2.5 chemical composition may be responsible for effects of exposure to PM2.5.
Using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) collected in 2000–2002 on 6,256 US adults without clinical cardiovascular disease in six U.S. metropolitan areas, we investigated cross-sectional associations of estimated long-term exposure to total PM2.5 mass and PM2.5 components (elemental carbon [EC], organic carbon [OC], silicon and sulfur) with measures of subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcium [CAC] and right common carotid intima-media thickness [CIMT]). Community monitors deployed for this study from 2007 to 2008 were used to estimate exposures at baseline addresses using three commonly-used approaches: (1) nearest monitor (the primary approach), (2) inverse-distance monitor weighting and (3) city-wide average.
Using the exposure estimate based on nearest monitor, in single-pollutant models, increased OC (effect estimate [95% CI] per IQR: 35.1 μm [26.8, 43.3]), EC (9.6 μm [3.6,15.7]), sulfur (22.7 μm [15.0,30.4]) and total PM2.5 (14.7 μm [9.0,20.5]) but not silicon (5.2 μm [−9.8,20.1]), were associated with increased CIMT; in two-pollutant models, only the association with OC was robust to control for the other pollutants. Findings were generally consistent across the three exposure estimation approaches. None of the PM measures were positively associated with either the presence or extent of CAC. In sensitivity analyses, effect estimates for OC and silicon were particularly sensitive to control for metropolitan area.
Employing commonly-used exposure estimation approaches, all of the PM2.5 components considered, except silicon, were associated with increased CIMT, with the evidence being strongest for OC; no component was associated with increased CAC. PM2.5 chemical components, or other features of the sources that produced them, may be important in determining the effect of PM exposure on atherosclerosis. These cross-sectional findings await confirmation in future work employing longitudinal outcome measures and using more sophisticated approaches to estimating exposure.
Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular diseases; Coronary artery disease; Air pollution; Particulate matter
Particulate matter (PM) air pollution is associated with alterations in cardiac conductance and sudden cardiac death in epidemiological studies. Traffic-related air pollutants, including diesel exhaust (DE) may be at least partly responsible for these effects. In this experimental study we assessed whether short-term exposure to DE would result in alterations in heart rate variability (HRV), a non-invasive measure of autonomic control of the heart.
In a double-blind, crossover, controlled-exposure study, 16 adult volunteers were exposed (at rest) in randomized order to filtered air (FA) and two levels of diluted DE (100 or 200 μg/m3 of fine particulate matter) in two-hour sessions. Before, and at four time-points after each exposure we assessed HRV. HRV parameters assessed included both time domain statistics (standard deviation of N-N intervals (SDNN), and the square root of the mean of the sum of squared differences between successive N-N intervals (RMSSD)) and frequency domain statistics (high frequency power (HF), low frequency power (LF), and the LF/HF ratio).
We observed an effect at 3-hours after initiation of DE inhalation on the frequency domain statistics of HRV. DE at 200 μg/m3 elicited an increase in HF power compared to FA (Δ=0.33; 95% CI: 0.01 to 0.7) and a decrease in LF/HF ratio (Δ=-0.74; 95% CI: -1.2 to -0.2). The effect of DE on HF power was not consistent among study participants. There was no DE-effect on time domain statistics and no significant DE effect on HRV in later time-points.
We did not observe a consistent DE effect on the autonomic control of the heart in a controlled exposure experiment in young participants. Efforts are warranted to understand discrepancies between epidemiological and experimental studies of air pollution’s impact on HRV.
Air pollution; Heart rate variability; Autonomic nervous system; Diesel exhaust
Short-term exposure to air pollution may affect ventricular repolarization, but there is limited information on how long-term exposures might affect the surface ventricular electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities associated with cardiovascular events. We carried out a study to determine whether long-term air pollution exposure is associated with abnormalities of ventricular repolarization and conduction in adults without known cardiovascular disease.
A total of 4783 participants free of clinical cardiovascular disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis underwent 12-lead ECG examinations, cardiac-computed tomography and calcium scoring, as well as estimation of air pollution exposure using a finely resolved spatio-temporal model to determine long-term average individual exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and proximity to major roadways. We assessed ventricular electrical abnormalities including presence of QT prolongation (Rautaharju QTrr criteria) and intraventricular conduction delay (QRS duration > 120 msec). We used logistic regression to determine the adjusted relationship between air pollution exposures and ECG abnormalities.
A 10 µg/m3-increase in estimated residential PM2.5 was associated with an increased odds of prevalent QT prolongation (adjusted odds ratio [OR]= 1.6 [95% confidence interval (CI)= 1.2 to 2.2]) and intraventricular conduction delay (OR 1.7, 95% CI: 1.0 to 2.6, independent of coronary-artery calcium score. Living near major roadways was not associated with ventricular electrical abnormalities. No significant evidence of effect modification by traditional risk factors or study site was observed.
This study demonstrates an association between long-term exposure to air pollution and ventricular repolarization and conduction abnormalities in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease, independent of subclinical coronary arterial calcification.
Epidemiological studies that assess the health effects of long-term exposure to ambient air pollution are used to inform public policy. These studies rely on exposure models that use data collected from pollution monitoring sites to predict exposures at subject locations. Land use regression (LUR) and universal kriging (UK) have been suggested as potential prediction methods. We evaluate these approaches on a dataset including measurements from three seasons in Los Angeles, CA.
The measurements of gaseous oxides of nitrogen (NOx) used in this study are from a “snapshot” sampling campaign that is part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air). The measurements in Los Angeles were collected during three two-week periods in the summer, autumn, and winter, each with about 150 sites. The design included clusters of monitors on either side of busy roads to capture near-field gradients of traffic-related pollution.
LUR and UK prediction models were created using geographic information system (GIS)-based covariates. Selection of covariates was based on 10-fold cross-validated (CV) R2 and root mean square error (RMSE). Since UK requires specialized software, a computationally simpler two-step procedure was also employed to approximate fitting the UK model using readily available regression and GIS software.
UK models consistently performed as well as or better than the analogous LUR models. The best CV R2 values for season-specific UK models predicting log(NOx) were 0.75, 0.72, and 0.74 (CV RMSE 0.20, 0.17, and 0.15) for summer, autumn, and winter, respectively. The best CV R2 values for season-specific LUR models predicting log(NOx) were 0.74, 0.60, and 0.67 (CV RMSE 0.20, 0.20, and 0.17). The two-stage approximation to UK also performed better than LUR and nearly as well as the full UK model with CV R2 values 0.75, 0.70, and 0.70 (CV RMSE 0.20, 0.17, and 0.17) for summer, autumn, and winter, respectively.
High quality LUR and UK prediction models for NOx in Los Angeles were developed for the three seasons based on data collected for MESA Air. In our study, UK consistently outperformed LUR. Similarly, the 2-step approach was more effective than the LUR models, with performance equal to or slightly worse than UK.
Universal kriging; land use regression; spatial modeling; air pollution; exposure assessment; Los Angeles
Extent of atherosclerosis measured by amount of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in computed tomography (CT) has been traditionally assessed using thresholded scoring methods, such as the Agatston score (AS). These thresholded scores have value in clinical prediction, but important information might exist below the threshold, which would have important advantages for understanding genetic, environmental, and other risk factors in atherosclerosis. We developed a semi-automated threshold-free scoring method, the spatially weighted calcium score (SWCS) for CAC in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Chest CT scans were obtained from 6814 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The SWCS and the AS were calculated for each of the scans. Cox proportional hazards models and linear regression models were used to evaluate the associations of the scores with CHD events and CHD risk factors. CHD risk factors were summarized using a linear predictor.
Among all participants and participants with AS > 0, the SWCS and AS both showed similar strongly significant associations with CHD events (hazard ratios, 1.23 and 1.19 per doubling of SWCS and AS; 95% CI, 1.16 to 1.30 and 1.14 to 1.26) and CHD risk factors (slopes, 0.178 and 0.164; 95% CI, 0.162 to 0.195 and 0.149 to 0.179). Even among participants with AS = 0, an increase in the SWCS was still significantly associated with established CHD risk factors (slope, 0.181; 95% CI, 0.138 to 0.224). The SWCS appeared to be predictive of CHD events even in participants with AS = 0, though those events were rare as expected.
The SWCS provides a valid, continuous measure of CAC suitable for quantifying the extent of atherosclerosis without a threshold, which will be useful for examining novel genetic and environmental risk factors for atherosclerosis.
Background: Epidemiologic studies of fine particulate matter [aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5)] typically use outdoor concentrations as exposure surrogates. Failure to account for variation in residential infiltration efficiencies (Finf) will affect epidemiologic study results.
Objective: We aimed to develop models to predict Finf for > 6,000 homes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air), a prospective cohort study of PM2.5 exposure, subclinical cardiovascular disease, and clinical outcomes.
Methods: We collected 526 two-week, paired indoor–outdoor PM2.5 filter samples from a subset of study homes. PM2.5 elemental composition was measured by X-ray fluorescence, and Finf was estimated as the indoor/outdoor sulfur ratio. We regressed Finf on meteorologic variables and questionnaire-based predictors in season-specific models. Models were evaluated using the R2 and root mean square error (RMSE) from a 10-fold cross-validation.
Results: The mean ± SD Finf across all communities and seasons was 0.62 ± 0.21, and community-specific means ranged from 0.47 ± 0.15 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to 0.82 ± 0.14 in New York, New York. Finf was generally greater during the warm (> 18°C) season. Central air conditioning (AC) use, frequency of AC use, and window opening frequency were the most important predictors during the warm season; outdoor temperature and forced-air heat were the best cold-season predictors. The models predicted 60% of the variance in 2-week Finf, with an RMSE of 0.13.
Conclusions: We developed intuitive models that can predict Finf using easily obtained variables. Using these models, MESA Air will be the first large epidemiologic study to incorporate variation in residential Finf into an exposure assessment.
air exchange; attenuation; deposition; exposure misclassification; penetration; ventilation
The initiation and acceleration of atherosclerosis is hypothesized as a physiologic mechanism underlying associations between air pollution and cardiovascular effects. Despite toxicologic evidence, epidemiologic data are limited.
In this cross-sectional analysis we investigated exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and residential proximity to major roads in relation to abdominal aortic calcification a sensitive indicator of systemic atherosclerosis. Aortic calcification was measured by computed tomography among 1147 persons, in 5 U.S. metropolitan areas, enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The presence and quantity of aortic calcification were modeled using relative risk regression and linear regression, respectively, with adjustment for potential confounders.
We observed a slightly elevated risk of aortic calcification (RR = 1.06; 95% confidence interval = 0.96–1.16) with a 10-μg/m3 contrast in PM2.5. The PM2.5-associated risk of aortic calcification was stronger among participants with long-term residence near a PM2.5 monitor (RR = 1.11; 1.00–1.24) and among participants not recently employed outside the home (RR = 1.10; 1.00–1.22). PM2.5 was not associated with an increase in the quantity of aortic calcification (Agatston score) and no roadway proximity effects were noted. There was indication of PM2.5 effect modification by lipid-lowering medication use, with greater effects among users, and PM2.5 associations were observed most consistently among Hispanics.
Although we did not find persuasive associations across our full study population, associations were stronger among participants with less exposure misclassification. These findings support the hypothesis of a relationship between particulate air pollution and systemic atherosclerosis.
Occupation has been linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence and mortality, but few studies have investigated occupation in relation to early atherosclerotic disease. This study examined associations between various occupational characteristics and carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) in a multi-ethnic sample.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) recruited 6814 adults aged 45e84 years and free of clinical CVD (response rate 60%, 51% female). Questionnaire data were used to determine occupational group (managerial/professional, sales/office, service, blue-collar), psychosocial job characteristics (ie, job demands, job control) and other sociodemographic information.
Common carotid artery (CCA)-IMT was greater for blue-collar jobs than for management/professional jobs (mean difference=0.012 mm, p=0.049) after adjustment for age, sex, race, place of birth (US or foreign born) and CVD risk factors. Compared to management/professional jobs, internal carotid artery (ICA)-IMT was greater for sales/office, service and blue-collar jobs (mean difference=0.071 mm, p<0.001; 0.057 mm, p=0.009; and 0.110 mm, p<0.001, respectively) after adjustment for age, sex, race and place of birth. The difference between blue-collar jobs and management/professional jobs remained significant after additional adjustment for CVD risk factors, income and education (mean difference=0.048 mm, p=0.045). Higher levels of control at work were associated with thinner CCA-IMT (mean difference=‒0.009 mm, p=0.016, adjusted for age, sex, race and place of birth) but not with ICA-IMT. Job demands had no significant association with IMT.
Blue-collar jobs and low levels of job control were associated with the development of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Traffic-related air pollution is associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although the biological mechanisms are not well understood, oxidative stress may be a primary pathway. Subpopulations, such as individuals with metabolic syndrome (MeS), may be at increased risk of adverse effects associated with air pollution. Our aim was to assess the relationship between exposure to diesel exhaust (DE) and indicators of systemic antioxidant and oxidative responses in adults with MeS. We hypothesized that DE exposure would result in greater oxidative stress and antioxidant responses compared with filtered air (FA).
Ten adult subjects with MeS were exposed on separate days for two hours to FA or DE (at 200μg/m3), in a double blind, crossover experiment. Urinary 8-isoPGF2α (F2-isoprostanes), and 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) were assessed as markers of oxidative stress at 3 hrs and 22 hrs, respectively, after exposure initiation. To assess the short-term antioxidant response we analyzed plasma ascorbic acid (AA) 90 minutes after exposure initiation. All outcomes were compared to pre-exposure levels, and mean changes were compared between FA and DE exposures.
Mean changes in urinary F2-isoprostanes (ng/mg creatinine), (−0.05 [95% CI = −0.29, 0.15]), and 8-OHdG (μg/g creatinine) (−0.09 [−0.13, 0.31]), were not statistically significant. Mean changes in plasma AA (mg/dl) were also not significant (−0.02 [−0.78, 0.04]).
In this carefully controlled experiment, we did not detect significant changes in oxidative stress or systemic antioxidant responses in subjects with MeS exposed to 200μg/m3 DE.
Air pollution; diesel exhaust; oxidative stress; antioxidants; metabolic syndrome; controlled exposure experiment; crossover studies; vehicle emissions/toxicity; adult; biological markers; human; male; female
Traffic-generated air pollution and noise have both been linked to cardiovascular morbidity. Since traffic is a shared source, there is potential for correlated exposures that may lead to confounding in epidemiologic studies. As part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air), 2-week NO and NO2 concentrations were measured at up to 105 locations, selected primarily to characterize gradients near major roads, in each of 9 US communities. We measured 5-min A-weighted equivalent continuous sound pressure levels (Leq) and ultrafine particle (UFP) counts at a subset of these NO/NO2 monitoring locations in Chicago, IL (N = 69 in December 2006; N = 36 in April 2007) and Riverside County, CA (N = 46 in April 2007). Leq and UFP were measured during non-“rush hour” periods (10:00–16:00) to maximize comparability between measurements. We evaluated roadway proximity exposure surrogates in relation to the measured levels, estimated noise–air pollution correlation coefficients, and evaluated the impact of regional-scale pollution gradients, wind direction, and roadway proximity on the correlations. Five-minute Leq measurements in December 2006 and April 2007 were highly correlated (r = 0.84), and measurements made at different times of day were similar (coefficients of variation: 0.5–13%), indicating that 5-min measurements are representative of long-term Leq. Binary and continuous roadway proximity metrics characterized Leq as well or better than NO or NO2. We found strong regional-scale gradients in NO and NO2, particularly in Chicago, but only weak regional-scale gradients in Leq and UFP. Leq was most consistently correlated with NO, but the correlations were moderate (0.20–0.60). After removing the influence of regional-scale gradients the correlations generally increased (Leq–NO: r = 0.49–0.62), and correlations downwind of major roads (Leq–NO: r = 0.53–0.74) were consistently higher than those upwind (0.35–0.65). There was not a consistent effect of roadway proximity on the correlations. In conclusion, roadway proximity variables are not unique exposure surrogates in studies of endpoints hypothesized to be related to both air pollution and noise. Moderate correlations between traffic-generated air pollution and noise suggest the possibility of confounding, which might be minimized by considering regional pollution gradients and/or prevailing wind direction(s) in epidemiologic studies.
Air pollution; Noise; Traffic; Confounding; Cardiovascular
Associations between air pollution and a multitude of health effects are now well established. Given ubiquitous exposure to some level of air pollution, the attributable health burden can be high, particularly for susceptible populations.
An international multidisciplinary workshop was convened to discuss evidence of the effectiveness of actions to reduce health impacts of air pollution at both the community and individual level. The overall aim was to summarize current knowledge regarding air pollution exposure and health impacts leading to public health recommendations.
During the workshop, experts reviewed the biological mechanisms of action of air pollution in the initiation and progression of disease, as well as the state of the science regarding community and individual-level interventions. The workshop highlighted strategies to reduce individual baseline risk of conditions associated with increased susceptibility to the effects of air pollution and the need to better understand the role of exposure duration in disease progression, reversal, and adaptation.
We have identified two promising and largely unexplored strategies to address and mitigate air pollution–related health impacts: reducing individual baseline risk of cardiovascular disease and incorporating air pollution–related health impacts into land-use decisions.
air pollution; antioxidant; cardiovascular; exposure; intervention; public health; respiratory; urban planning
Cardiac autonomic dysfunction has been suggested as a possible biologic pathway for the association between fine particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). We examined the associations of PM2.5 with heart rate variability, a marker of autonomic function, and whether metabolic syndrome (MetS) modified these associations.
We used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis to measure the standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN) and the root mean square of successive differences (rMSSD) of 5,465 participants 45–84 years old who were free of CVD at the baseline examination (2000–2002). Data from the U.S. regulatory monitor network were used to estimate ambient PM2.5 concentrations at the participants’ residences. MetS was defined as having three or more of the following criteria: abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high fasting glucose.
After controlling for confounders, we found that an interquartile range (IQR) increase in 2-day average PM2.5 (10.2 μg/m3) was associated with a 2.1% decrease in rMSSD [95% confidence interval (CI), −4.2 to 0.0] and nonsignificantly associated with a 1.8% decrease in SDNN (95% CI, −3.7 to 0.1). Associations were stronger among individuals with MetS than among those without MetS: an IQR elevation in 2-day PM2.5 was associated with a 6.2% decrease in rMSSD (95% CI, −9.4 to −2.9) among participants with MetS, whereas almost no change was found among participants without MetS (p-interaction = 0.005). Similar effect modification was observed in SDNN (p-interaction = 0.011).
These findings suggest that autonomic dysfunction may be a mechanism through which PM exposure affects cardiovascular risk, especially among persons with MetS.
air pollution; autonomic nervous system; heart rate variability; metabolic syndrome; PM2.5
Most published epidemiology studies of long-term air pollution health effects have relied on central site monitoring to investigate regional-scale differences in exposure. Few cohort studies have had sufficient data to characterize localized variations in pollution, despite the fact that large gradients can exist over small spatial scales. Similarly, previous data have generally been limited to measurements of particle mass or several of the criteria gases. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) is an innovative investigation undertaken to link subclinical and clinical cardiovascular health effects with individual-level estimates of personal exposure to ambient-origin pollution. This project improves on prior work by implementing an extensive exposure assessment program to characterize long-term average concentrations of ambient-generated PM2.5, specific PM2.5 chemical components, and co-pollutants, with particular emphasis on capturing concentration gradients within cities.
This paper describes exposure assessment in MESA Air, including questionnaires, community sampling, home monitoring, and personal sampling. Summary statistics describing the performance of the sampling methods are presented along with descriptive statistics of the air pollution concentrations by city.
Elevated left ventricular mass (LVM) is a strong predictor of negative cardiovascular outcomes, including heart failure, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. A relationship between close (< 50 m compared with > 150 m) residential proximity to major roadways and higher LVM has previously been described, but the mechanistic pathways that are involved in this relationship are not known. Understanding genetic factors that influence susceptibility to these effects may provide insight into relevant mechanistic pathways.
We set out to determine whether genetic polymorphisms in genes affecting vascular and autonomic function, blood pressure, or inflammation influence the relationship between traffic proximity and LVM.
This was a cross-sectional study of 1,376 genotyped participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging performed between 2000 and 2002. The impact of tagged single-nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) and inferred haplotypes in 12 candidate genes (ACE, ADRB2, AGT, AGTR1, ALOX15, EDN1, GRK4, PTGS1, PTGS2, TLR4, VEGFA, and VEGFB) on the relationship between residential proximity to major roadways and LVM was analyzed using multiple linear regression, adjusting for multiple potential confounders.
After accounting for multiple testing and comparing homozygotes, tagSNPs in the type 1 angiotensin II receptor (AGTR1, rs6801836) and arachidonate 15-lipoxygenase (ALOX15, rs2664593) genes were each significantly (q < 0.2) associated with a 9–10% difference in the association between residential proximity to major roadways and LVM. Participants with suboptimal blood pressure control demonstrated stronger interactions between AGTR1 and traffic proximity.
Common polymorphisms in genes responsible for vascular function, inflammation, and oxidative stress appear to modify associations between proximity to major roadways and LVM. Further understanding of how genes modify effects of air pollution on CVD may help guide research efforts into specific mechanistic pathways.
AGTR1; ALOX15; cardiac structure; cardiac MRI; gene-environment interactions; left ventricular mass; traffic, air pollution
Rationale: Ambient air pollution has been associated with heart failure morbidity and mortality. The mechanisms responsible for these associations are unknown but may include the effects of traffic-related pollutants on vascular or autonomic function.
Objectives: We assessed the cross-sectional relation between long-term air pollution, traffic exposures, and important end-organ measures of alterations in cardiac function—left ventricular mass index (LVMI) and ejection fraction—in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a multicenter study of adults without previous clinical cardiovascular disease.
Methods: A total of 3,827 eligible participants (aged 45–84 yr) underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging between 2000 and 2002. We estimated air pollution exposures using residential proximity to major roadways and interpolated concentrations of fine particulate matter (less than 2.5 microns in diameter). We examined adjusted associations between these exposures and left ventricular mass and function.
Measurements and Main Results: Relative to participants living more than 150 m from a major roadway, participants living within 50 m of a major roadway showed an adjusted 1.4 g/m2 (95% CI, 0.3–2.5) higher LVMI, a difference in mass corresponding to a 5.6 mm Hg greater systolic blood pressure. Ejection fraction was not associated with proximity to major roadways. Limited variability in estimates of fine particulate matter was observed within cities, and no associations with particulate matter were found for either outcome after adjustment for center.
Conclusions: Living in close proximity to major roadways is associated with higher LVMI, suggesting chronic vascular end-organ damage from a traffic-related environmental exposure. Air pollutants or another component of roadway proximity, such as noise, could be responsible.
epidemiology; particulate matter; hypertrophy; heart failure; magnetic resonance imaging
Traffic-related air pollution is consistently associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Recent human and animal studies suggest that exposure to air pollutants affects vascular function. Diesel exhaust (DE) is a major source of traffic-related air pollution.
Our goal was to study the effects of short-term exposure to DE on vascular reactivity and on mediators of vascular tone.
In a double-blind, crossover, controlled exposure study, 27 adult volunteers (10 healthy and 17 with metabolic syndrome) were exposed in randomized order to filtered air (FA) and each of two levels of diluted DE (100 or 200 μg/m3 of fine particulate matter) in 2-hr sessions. Before and after each exposure, we assessed the brachial artery diameter (BAd) by B-mode ultrasound and collected blood samples for endothelin-1 (ET-1) and catecholamines. Postexposure we also assessed endothelium-dependent flow-mediated dilation (FMD).
Compared with FA, DE at 200 μg/m3 elicited a decrease in BAd (0.11 mm; 95% confidence interval, 0.02–0.18), and the effect appeared linearly dose related with a smaller effect at 100 μg/m3. Plasma levels of ET-1 increased after 200 μg/m3 DE but not after FA (p = 0.01). There was no consistent impact of DE on plasma catecholamines or FMD.
These results demonstrate that short-term exposure to DE is associated with acute endothelial response and vasoconstriction of a conductance artery. Elucidation of the signaling pathways controlling vascular tone that underlie this observation requires further study.
air pollution; brachial artery; catecholamines; endothelin-1; vasoconstriction
Ambient particulate matter (PM) is associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. It has been proposed that PM induces a pro-thrombotic process, increasing the risk of cardiovascular events, with some support from epidemiological and laboratory-based models. Diesel exhaust is a major contributor to urban PM, and we conducted a controlled human exposure of diesel exhaust in healthy subjects.
To evaluate diesel exhaust exposure effects on fibrinolytic burden (D-dimer), platelet number, and endothelial injury (von Willebrand’s factor, VWF), inhibition of the fibrinolytic pathway (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 [PAI-1]), and inflammation (C-reactive protein, CRP).
Materials and Methods
Randomized, crossover, double-blinded design, with 13 healthy participants exposed on three different days (≥ 2 weeks washout) to diesel exhaust at 0 (filtered air), 100μg PM2.5/m3 and 200μg PM2.5/m3. We assessed diesel exhaust-associated changes in D-dimer, VWF, PAI-1 and platelets at 3, 6 and 22 hours, and CRP at 22 hours, after exposure initiation.
Significant changes did not occur in any primary endpoints. Among secondary endpoints, diesel exhaust (200μg PM2.5/m3) effect on PAI-1 levels at 22 hours was of borderline significance, with a 1.32-fold decrease after exposure to diesel exhaust (200μg PM2.5/m3), relative to filtered air (CI 1.00 to 1.54). Diurnal patterns in D-dimer and PAI-1 were observed.
In healthy individuals, exposure to 200μg PM2.5/m3 diesel exhaust did not affect primary pro-thrombotic endpoints. Thus, these data do not support a diesel exhaust-induced pro-thrombotic phenomenon. Replication of these studies should be carried out to ascertain whether or not they inform our mechanistic understanding of air pollution’s cardiovascular effects.
diesel; coagulation; fibrinolysis; human; inhalation exposure; vehicle emissions
Blood pressure (BP) may be implicated in associations observed between ambient particulate matter and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This study examined cross-sectional associations between short-term ambient fine particles (particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter; PM2.5) and BP: systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP), mean arterial (MAP), and pulse pressure (PP).
The study sample included 5,112 persons 45–84 years of age, free of cardiovascular disease at the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis baseline examination (2000–2002). Data from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors were used to estimate ambient PM2.5 exposures for the preceding 1, 2, 7, 30, and 60 days. Roadway data were used to estimate local exposures to traffic-related particles.
Results from linear regression found PP and SBP positively associated with PM2.5. For example, a 10-μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 30-day mean was associated with 1.12 mmHg higher pulse pressure [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.28–1.97] and 0.99 mmHg higher systolic BP (95% CI, –0.15 to 2.13), adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, education, body mass index, diabetes, cigarette smoking and environmental tobacco smoke, alcohol use, physical activity, medications, atmospheric pressure, and temperature. Results were much weaker and not statistically significant for MAP and DBP. Although traffic-related variables were not themselves associated with BP, the association between PM2.5 and BP was stronger in the presence of higher traffic exposure.
Higher SBP and PP were associated with ambient levels of PM2.5 and the association was stronger in the presence of roadway traffic, suggesting that impairment of blood pressure regulation may play a role in response to air pollution.
air pollution; blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; epidemiology; particulate matter
A 50-year-old male railroad worker presented to his primary care physician with an erythematous, tender skin lesion on the right knee; a biopsy of this lesion revealed squamous cell carcinoma in situ. The site of the lesion was sun-protected but had been associated with 30 years of creosote-soaked clothing. In this article, we review dermal and other malignancies associated with creosote, along with creosote occupational exposures and exposure limits. This is a unique case, given the lack of other, potentially confounding, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and the sun-protected location of the lesion.
carcinoma; coal tar; creosote; environmental; exposure; occupational; railroad; squamous cell