PM2.5 and Diabetes and Hypertension Incidence in the Black Women's Health Study

Epidemiology. 2016 Mar;27(2):202-10. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000418.


Background: Clinical studies have shown that exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can increase insulin resistance and blood pressure. The epidemiologic evidence for an association of PM2.5 exposure with the incidence of type 2 diabetes or hypertension is inconsistent. Even a modest association would have great public health importance given the ubiquity of exposure and high prevalence of the conditions.

Methods: We used Cox proportional hazards models to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for incident type 2 diabetes and hypertension associated with exposure to PM2.5 in a large cohort of African American women living in 56 metropolitan areas across the US, using data from the Black Women's Health Study. Pollutant levels were estimated at all residential locations over follow-up with a hybrid model incorporating land use regression and Bayesian Maximum Entropy techniques.

Results: During 1995 to 2011, 4,387 cases of diabetes and 9,570 cases of hypertension occurred. In models controlling for age, questionnaire cycle, and metro area, there were positive associations with diabetes (HR = 1.13, 95% CI = 1.04, 1.24) and hypertension (HR = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.00, 1.12) per interquartile range of PM2.5 (2.9 μg/m). Multivariable HRs, however, were 0.99 (95% CI = 0.90, 1.09) for diabetes and 0.99 (95% CI = 0.93, 1.06) for hypertension.

Conclusions: Our results provide little support for an association of PM2.5 with diabetes or hypertension incidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Particulate Matter*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data


  • Particulate Matter