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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Jun 28;16(13). pii: E2284. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16132284.

Personal NO2 and Volatile Organic Compounds Exposure Levels are Associated with Markers of Cardiovascular Risk in Women in the Cape Town Region of South Africa.

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Division of Medical Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, P.O. Box 241, Cape Town 8000, South Africa.
Health Unit, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), 2400 Mol, Belgium.
Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium.
Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium.
Division of Physiology, Otto Loewi Research Center of Vascular Biology, Immunity and Inflammation, Medical University of Graz, 8036 Graz, Austria.


Exposure to ambient NO2 and benzene, toluene ethyl-benzene and m+p- and o-xylenes (BTEX) is associated with adverse cardiovascular effects, but limited information is available on the effects of personal exposure to these compounds in South African populations. This 6-month follow-up study aims to determine 7-day personal ambient NO2 and BTEX exposure levels via compact passive diffusion samplers in female participants from Cape Town, and investigate whether exposure levels are associated with cardiovascular risk markers. Overall, the measured air pollutant exposure levels were lower compared to international standards. NO2 was positively associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP), and inversely associated with the central retinal venular equivalent (CRVE) and mean baseline brachial artery diameter. o-xylene was associated with DBP and benzene was strongly associated with carotid intima media thickness (cIMT). Our findings showed that personal air pollution exposure, even at relatively low levels, was associated with several markers of cardiovascular risk in women residing in the Cape Town region.


BTEX; South Africa; air pollution; cardiovascular risk; nitrogen dioxide

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