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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Apr 15;169(8):934-40. Epub 2004 Feb 12.

Particulate matter exposure in cars is associated with cardiovascular effects in healthy young men.

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Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.


Exposure to fine airborne particulate matter (PM(2.5)) is associated with cardiovascular events and mortality in older and cardiac patients. Potential physiologic effects of in-vehicle, roadside, and ambient PM(2.5) were investigated in young, healthy, nonsmoking, male North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers. Nine troopers (age 23 to 30) were monitored on 4 successive days while working a 3 P.M. to midnight shift. Each patrol car was equipped with air-quality monitors. Blood was drawn 14 hours after each shift, and ambulatory monitors recorded the electrocardiogram throughout the shift and until the next morning. Data were analyzed using mixed models. In-vehicle PM(2.5) (average of 24 microg/m(3)) was associated with decreased lymphocytes (-11% per 10 microg/m(3)) and increased red blood cell indices (1% mean corpuscular volume), neutrophils (6%), C-reactive protein (32%), von Willebrand factor (12%), next-morning heart beat cycle length (6%), next-morning heart rate variability parameters, and ectopic beats throughout the recording (20%). Controlling for potential confounders had little impact on the effect estimates. The associations of these health endpoints with ambient and roadside PM(2.5) were smaller and less significant. The observations in these healthy young men suggest that in-vehicle exposure to PM(2.5) may cause pathophysiologic changes that involve inflammation, coagulation, and cardiac rhythm.

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