Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and type 2 diabetes prevalence in a cross-sectional screening-study in the Netherlands

Environ Health. 2011 Sep 5;10:76. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-10-76.


Background: Air pollution may promote type 2 diabetes by increasing adipose inflammation and insulin resistance. This study examined the relation between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and type 2 diabetes prevalence among 50- to 75-year-old subjects living in Westfriesland, the Netherlands.

Methods: Participants were recruited in a cross-sectional diabetes screening-study conducted between 1998 and 2000. Exposure to traffic-related air pollution was characterized at the participants' home-address. Indicators of exposure were land use regression modeled nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration, distance to the nearest main road, traffic flow at the nearest main road and traffic in a 250 m circular buffer. Crude and age-, gender- and neighborhood income adjusted associations were examined by logistic regression.

Results: 8,018 participants were included, of whom 619 (8%) subjects had type 2 diabetes. Smoothed plots of exposure versus type 2 diabetes supported some association with traffic in a 250 m buffer (the highest three quartiles compared to the lowest also showed increased prevalence, though non-significant and not increasing with increasing quartile), but not with the other exposure metrics. Modeled NO2-concentration, distance to the nearest main road and traffic flow at the nearest main road were not associated with diabetes. Exposure-response relations seemed somewhat more pronounced for women than for men (non-significant).

Conclusions: We did not find consistent associations between type 2 diabetes prevalence and exposure to traffic-related air pollution, though there were some indications for a relation with traffic in a 250 m buffer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / toxicity*
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Rural Population
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Nitrogen Dioxide