Long- And Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure and Measures of Arterial Stiffness in the Framingham Heart Study

Environ Int. 2018 Dec;121(Pt 1):139-147. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.08.060. Epub 2018 Sep 8.


Background: Studies of air pollution exposure and arterial stiffness have reported inconsistent results and large studies employing the reference standard of arterial stiffness, carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity (CFPWV), have not been conducted.

Aim: To study long-term exposure to ambient fine particles (PM2.5), proximity to roadway, and short-term air pollution exposures in relation to multiple measures of arterial stiffness in the Framingham Heart Study.

Methods: We assessed central arterial stiffness using CFPWV, forward pressure wave amplitude, mean arterial pressure and augmentation index. We investigated long-and short-term air pollution exposure associations with arterial stiffness with linear regressions using long-term residential PM2.5 (2003 average from a spatiotemporal model using satellite data) and proximity to roadway in addition to short-term averages of PM2.5, black carbon, particle number, sulfate, nitrogen oxides, and ozone from stationary monitors.

Results: We examined 5842 participants (mean age 51 ± 16, 54% women). Living closer to a major roadway was associated with higher arterial stiffness (0.11 m/s higher CFPWV [95% CI: 0.01, 0.22] living <50 m vs 400 ≤ 1000 m). We did not observe association between arterial stiffness measures and long-term PM2.5 or short-term levels of PM2.5, particle number, sulfate or ozone. Higher levels of black carbon and nitrogen oxides in the previous days were unexpectedly associated with lower arterial stiffness.

Conclusions: Long-term exposure to PM2.5 was not associated with arterial stiffness but positive associations with living close to a major road may suggest that pollutant mixtures very nearby major roads, rather than PM2.5, may affect arterial stiffness. Furthermore, short-term air pollution exposures were not associated with higher arterial stiffness.

Keywords: Air pollution; Applanation tonometry; Arterial stiffness; Epidemiology.

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 / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Boston
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Vascular Stiffness*
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Vehicle Emissions