Particle-associated organic compounds and symptoms in myocardial infarction survivors

Inhal Toxicol. 2011 Jun;23(7):431-47. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2011.580471.


Context: The aerosol components responsible for the adverse health effects of the exposure to particulate matter (PM) have not been conclusively identified, and there is especially little information on the role of particulate organic compounds (POC).

Objective: This study evaluated the role of PM and POC with regard to daily symptoms.

Methods: One hundred and fifty-three myocardial infarction survivors from Augsburg, Germany, recorded daily occurrence of different symptoms in winter 2003/2004. Ambient concentrations of PM with a diameter <2.5 μm (PM(2.5)), particle number concentration (PNC), PM(2.5)-bound hopanes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were quantified. Data were analyzed using generalized estimating equations adjusting for meteorological and other time-variant confounders.

Results: The odds for avoidance of physically demanding activities due to heart problems increased immediately associated with most POC measures (e.g. 5% per 1.08 ng/m(3) increase in benzo[a]pyrene, 95%-confidence interval (CI):1-9%) and tended to a delayed decrease. After a 2-day delayed decrease associated with hopanes, the odds for shortness of breath increased consistently after 3 days with almost all POC measures (e.g. 4% per 0.21 ng/m(3) increase in 17α(H), 21β(H)-hopane, CI: 1-8%). The odds for heart palpitations marginally increased immediately in association with PNC (8% per 8146 cm(-3) increase in PNC, CI: 0-16%).

Conclusions: The study showed an association between PM, particle-bound POC, and daily symptoms. The organic compounds may be causally related with cardiovascular health or act rather as indicators for traffic- and combustion-related particles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / chemically induced*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chest Pain / chemically induced
  • Dyspnea / chemically induced*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Seasons
  • Triterpenes / toxicity


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants
  • Biomarkers
  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Triterpenes
  • hopane