Association of Roadway Proximity With Fasting Plasma Glucose and Metabolic Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in a Cross-Sectional Study of Cardiac Catheterization Patients

Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Oct;123(10):1007-14. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1306980. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Background: The relationship between traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) and risk factors for cardiovascular disease needs to be better understood in order to address the adverse impact of air pollution on human health.

Objective: We examined associations between roadway proximity and traffic exposure zones, as markers of TRAP exposure, and metabolic biomarkers for cardiovascular disease risk in a cohort of patients undergoing cardiac catheterization.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of 2,124 individuals residing in North Carolina (USA). Roadway proximity was assessed via distance to primary and secondary roadways, and we used residence in traffic exposure zones (TEZs) as a proxy for TRAP. Two categories of metabolic outcomes were studied: measures associated with glucose control, and measures associated with lipid metabolism. Statistical models were adjusted for race, sex, smoking, body mass index, and socioeconomic status (SES).

Results: An interquartile-range (990 m) decrease in distance to roadways was associated with higher fasting plasma glucose (β = 2.17 mg/dL; 95% CI: -0.24, 4.59), and the association appeared to be limited to women (β = 5.16 mg/dL; 95% CI: 1.48, 8.84 compared with β = 0.14 mg/dL; 95% CI: -3.04, 3.33 in men). Residence in TEZ 5 (high-speed traffic) and TEZ 6 (stop-and-go traffic), the two traffic zones assumed to have the highest levels of TRAP, was positively associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C; β = 8.36; 95% CI: -0.15, 16.9 and β = 5.98; 95% CI: -3.96, 15.9, for TEZ 5 and 6, respectively).

Conclusion: Proxy measures of TRAP exposure were associated with intermediate metabolic traits associated with cardiovascular disease, including fasting plasma glucose and possibly HDL-C.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Cardiac Catheterization / statistics & numerical data
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Blood Glucose
  • Vehicle Emissions