Can living in the surroundings of a petrochemical complex be a risk factor for autoimmune thyroid disease?

Environ Res. 2010 Jan;110(1):112-7. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2009.10.009.


Background: Based on a suspicion raised by a health professional and due to a subsequent legal request, a cross-sectional study was made with a comparison group to investigate a possible excess of Hashimoto's thyroiditis-HT and antibodies-ATA in the surroundings of a Petrochemical Complex.

Methods: People of both sexes aged over 20 years were investigated in a random sample of residents in the area surrounding the Petrochemical Complex. Controls were investigated in an area with steel industries. In the areas searched, participants were chosen randomly and stratified a priori by sex and age group. As a result, 90.5% of the expected sample was obtained, totaling 1533 individuals. HT and ATA prevalences were compared by the chi-square test. Logistic regression was used to control the possible confounding factors for HT and ATA.

Results: Both TH (9.3%) and ATA (17.6%) prevalences were higher in the Petrochemical Complex area than in the control area (3.9% and 10.3%, respectively). After controlling the possible confounding factors, the POR for living in the surroundings of the Complex and presenting HT was 2.39 (CI95%: 1.42-4.03). According to the ATA criterion, the POR for living in the surroundings of the Complex was 1.78 (CI95%: 1.23-2.60).

Conclusions: The authors have found higher prevalence and risk of developing thyroiditis and anti-thyroid antibodies among residents of areas surrounding the Petrochemical Complex and think these findings need to be further studied in similar areas.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Extraction and Processing Industry*
  • Female
  • Hashimoto Disease / chemically induced*
  • Hashimoto Disease / epidemiology
  • Hashimoto Disease / immunology
  • Humans
  • Iodine / urine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ozone / toxicity
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Petroleum
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Autoantibodies
  • Particulate Matter
  • Petroleum
  • Ozone
  • Iodine