Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in a cohort study: effects of total and traffic-specific air pollution

Environ Health. 2015 Jun 19;14:53. doi: 10.1186/s12940-015-0031-x.


Background: Studies investigating the link between long-term exposure to air pollution and incidence of diabetes are still scarce and results are inconsistent, possibly due to different compositions of the particle mixture. We investigate the long-term effect of traffic-specific and total particulate matter (PM) and road proximity on cumulative incidence of diabetes mellitus (mainly type 2) in a large German cohort.

Methods: We followed prospectively 3607 individuals without diabetes at baseline (2000-2003) from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study in Germany (mean follow-up time 5.1 years). Mean annual exposures to total as well as traffic-specific PM10 and PM2.5 at residence were estimated using a chemistry transport model (EURAD, 1 km(2) resolution). Effect estimates for an increase of 1 μg/m(3) in PM were obtained with Poisson regression adjusting for sex, age, body mass index, lifestyle factors, area-level and individual-level socio-economic status, and city.

Results: 331 incident cases developed. Adjusted RRs for total PM10 and PM2.5 were 1.05 (95%-CI: 1.00;1.10) and 1.03 (95%-CI: 0.95;1.12), respectively. Markedly higher point estimates were found for local traffic-specific PM with RRs of 1.36 (95%-CI: 0.98;1.89) for PM10 and 1.36 (95%-CI: 0.97;1.89) for PM2.5. Individuals living closer than 100 m to a busy road had a more than 30% higher risk (1.37;95%-CI: 1.04;1.81) than those living further than 200 m away.

Conclusions: Long-term exposure to total PM increases type two diabetes risk in the general population, as does living close to a major road. Local traffic-specific PM was related to higher risks for type two diabetes than total PM.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Vehicle Emissions