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Occup Environ Med. 2008 Aug;65(8):534-40. Epub 2007 Nov 21.

Airborne particulate matter exposure and urinary albumin excretion: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

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University of Michigan School of Public Health, 6631 SPH Tower, 109 South Observatory, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA.



Understanding mechanistic pathways linking airborne particle exposure to cardiovascular health is important for causal inference and setting environmental standards. We evaluated whether urinary albumin excretion, a subclinical marker of microvascular function which predicts cardiovascular events, was associated with ambient particle exposure.


Urinary albumin and creatinine were measured among members of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis at three visits during 2000-2004. Exposure to PM(2.5) and PM(10) (microg/m(3)) was estimated from ambient monitors for 1 month, 2 months and two decades before visit one. We regressed recent and chronic (20 year) particulate matter (PM) exposure on urinary albumin/creatinine ratio (UACR, mg/g) and microalbuminuria at first examination, controlling for age, race/ethnicity, sex, smoking, second-hand smoke exposure, body mass index and dietary protein (n = 3901). We also evaluated UACR changes and development of microalbuminuria between the first, and second and third visits which took place at 1.5- to 2-year intervals in relation to chronic PM exposure prior to baseline using mixed models.


Chronic and recent particle exposures were not associated with current UACR or microalbuminuria (per 10 microg/m(3) increment of chronic PM(10) exposure, mean difference in log UACR = -0.02 (95% CI -0.07 to 0.03) and relative probability of having microalbuminuria = 0.92 (95% CI 0.77 to 1.08)) We found only weak evidence that albuminuria was accelerated among those chronically exposed to particles: each 10 microg/m(3) increment in chronic PM(10) exposure was associated with a 1.14 relative probability of developing microalbuminuria over 3-4 years, although 95% confidence intervals included the null (95% CI 0.96 to 1.36).


UACR is not a strong mechanistic marker for the possible influence of air pollution on cardiovascular health in this sample.

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