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.