Effect of environmental air pollution on type 2 diabetes mellitus

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Jan;19(1):123-8.


Objective: Air pollution is a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), but the evidence is limited and diverse. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the effect of environmental air pollution on incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Methods: In this study, we identified 102 published studies through a systematic data base search including ISI-Web of Science, EMBASE and PubMed. We searched the related literature by using the key terms including diabetes mellitus, air pollution, occupational and environmental pollution, gaseous, NO2, particulate matter pollutants PM2.5, and PM10. Studies in which diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance, air pollution, occupational and environmental pollution was discussed were included in the study. No confines on publication status, study design or language of publication were considered. Descriptive and quantitative information were extracted from the selected literature. Finally we included 21 publications and remaining studies were excluded.

Results: Air pollution is a leading cause of insulin resistance and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. The association between air pollution and diabetes is stronger for traffic associated pollutants, gaseous, nitrogen dioxide, tobacco smoke and particulate matter.

Conclusions: Exposure to air pollutants is significantly associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is suggested that, environmental protection officials must take high priority steps to minimize the air pollution, hence to decrease the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Nitrogen Dioxide