Short-term effects of air pollution on heart rate variability in senior adults in Steubenville, Ohio

J Occup Environ Med. 2006 Aug;48(8):780-8. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000229781.27181.7d.


Objective: We examined the association between ambient air pollution levels and heart rate variability (HRV) in a panel study of 32 subjects.

Methods: We used linear mixed models to analyze the effects of fine particles (PM2.5), sulfate (SO4), elemental carbon (EC), and gases on log-transformed standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN), mean square of differences between adjacent RR intervals (r-MSSD), and high- and low-frequency power (HF, LF).

Results: An interquartile range (IQR) increase of 5.1 mug/m in SO4 on the previous day was associated with a decrease of -3.3% SDNN (95% confidence = -6.0% to -0.5%), -5.6% r-MSSD (-10.7% to -0.2%), and -10.3% HF (-19.5% to -0.1%). Associations with total PM2.5 were similar. HRV was not associated with EC, NO2, SO2, or O3.

Conclusion: In addition to traffic-related particles, elevated levels of sulfate particles may also adversely affect autonomic function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Time Factors
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Vehicle Emissions