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Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Jan;118(1):87-91. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0900818.

Association of heart rate variability in taxi drivers with marked changes in particulate air pollution in Beijing in 2008.

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Peking University School of Public Health, Beijing, China.



Heart rate variability (HRV), a marker of cardiac autonomic function, has been -associated with particulate matter (PM) air pollution, especially in older patients and those with cardio-vascular diseases. However, the effect of PM exposure on cardiac autonomic function in young, healthy adults has received less attention.


We evaluated the relationship between exposure to traffic-related PM with an aerodynamic diameter <or= 2.5 microm (PM2.5) and HRV in a highly exposed panel of taxi drivers.


Continuous measurements of personal exposure to PM2.5 and ambulatory electrocardiogram monitoring were conducted on 11 young healthy taxi drivers for a 12-hr work shift during their work time (09002100 hr) before, during, and after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Mixed-effects regression models were used to estimate associations between PM2.5 exposure and percent changes in 5-min HRV indices after combining data from the three time periods and controlling for potentially confounding variables.


Personal exposures of taxi drivers to PM2.5 changed markedly across the three time -periods. The standard deviation of normal-to-normal (SDNN) intervals decreased by 2.2% [95% confidence interval (CI), 3.8% to 0.6%] with an interquartile range (IQR; 69.5 microg/m3) increase in the 30-min PM2.5 moving average, whereas the low-frequency and high-frequency powers decreased by 4.2% (95% CI, 9.0% to 0.8%) and 6.2% (95% CI, 10.7% to 1.5%), respectively, in association with an IQR increase in the 2-hr PM2.5 moving average.


Marked changes in traffic-related PM2.5 exposure were associated with altered cardiac autonomic function in young healthy adults.

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