The Characteristics of Coarse Particulate Matter Air Pollution Associated With Alterations in Blood Pressure and Heart Rate During Controlled Exposures

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. Mar-Apr 2015;25(2):153-9. doi: 10.1038/jes.2014.62. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


Although fine particulate matter (PM) air pollution <2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality, the potential health effects of coarse PM (2.5-10 μm in aerodynamic diameter; PM10-2.5) remain less clearly understood. We aimed to elucidate the components within coarse PM most likely responsible for mediating these hemodynamic alterations. Thirty-two healthy adults (25.9 ± 6.6 years) were exposed to concentrated ambient coarse PM (CAP) (76.2 ± 51.5 μg/m(3)) and filtered air (FA) for 2 h in a rural location in a randomized double-blind crossover study. The particle constituents (24 individual elements, organic and elemental carbon) were analyzed from filter samples and associated with the blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) changes occurring throughout CAP and FA exposures in mixed model analyses. Total coarse PM mass along with most of the measured elements were positively associated with similar degrees of elevations in both systolic BP and HR. Conversely, total PM mass was unrelated, whereas only two elements (Cu and Mo) were positively associated with and Zn was inversely related to diastolic BP changes during exposures. Inhalation of coarse PM from a rural location rapidly elevates systolic BP and HR in a concentration-responsive manner, whereas the particulate composition does not appear to be an important determinant of these responses. Conversely, exposure to certain PM elements may be necessary to trigger a concomitant increase in diastolic BP. These findings suggest that particulate mass may be an adequate metric of exposure to predict some, but not all, hemodynamic alterations induced by coarse PM mass.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metals, Heavy / adverse effects*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Rural Population
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Particulate Matter