Effects of short- and long-term exposures to particulate matter on inflammatory marker levels in the general population

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Jul;26(19):19697-19704. doi: 10.1007/s11356-019-05194-y. Epub 2019 May 12.


The effect of particulate matter (PM) on health increases with exposure duration but the change from short to longer term is not well studied. We examined the exposure to PM smaller 10 μm (PM10) from short to longer duration and their associations with levels of inflammatory markers in the population-based CoLaus cohort in Lausanne, Switzerland. Baseline and follow-up CoLaus data were used to study the associations between PM10 exposure and inflammatory markers, including the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), as well as interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor-necrosis-factor alpha (TNF-α) using mixed models. Exposure was determined for each participant's home address from hourly air quality simulations at a 5-m resolution. Short-term exposure intervals were 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month prior to the hospital visit (blood withdrawal); long-term exposure intervals were 3 and 6 months prior to the visit. In most time windows, IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α were positively associated with PM10. No significant associations were identified for CRP. Adjusted associations with long-term exposures were stronger and more significant than those for short-term exposures. In stratified models, gender, age, smoking status, and hypertension only led to small modifications in effect estimates, though a few of the estimates for IL-6 and TNF-α became non-significant. In this general adult cohort exposed to relatively low average PM10 levels, clear associations with markers of systemic inflammation were observed. Longer duration of elevated exposure was associated with an exacerbated inflammatory response. This may partially explain the elevated disease risk observed with chronic PM10 exposure. It also suggests that reducing prolonged episodes of high PM exposure may be a strategy to reduce inflammatory risk.

Keywords: Air pollution; Inflammation; Long-term; Modeling; Particulate matter; Short-term.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Air Pollutants
  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-6
  • Particulate Matter
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • C-Reactive Protein