Exposure to ambient fine particulate matter is associated with changes in fasting glucose and lipid profiles: a nationwide cohort study

BMC Public Health. 2020 Apr 3;20(1):430. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-08503-0.


Background: Ambient fine particulate matter is a rising concern for global public health. It was recently suggested that exposure to fine particulate matter may contribute to the development of diabetes and dyslipidaemia. This study aims to examine the potential associations of ambient particulate matter exposure with changes in fasting glucose and lipid profiles in Koreans.

Method: We used the data from the National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort (NHIS-NSC), a nationwide database representative of the Korean population. A total of 85,869 individuals aged ≥20 years were included. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to assess the associations between exposure to particulate matter and changes in fasting glucose and lipid profiles at 2-year intervals after adjusting for confounders.

Results: Significant associations were observed between an increase in interquartile range for particulate matter < 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) and elevated levels of fasting glucose and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (p for trend = 0.015 and 0.010, respectively), while no association for particulate matter sized 2.5-10 μm in diameter (PM10-2.5) was noted after adjusting for the other covariates. Sub-group analyses showed stronger associations in individuals who were older (≥60 years) or physically inactive.

Conclusions: Fine particulate matter exposure affects worsening fasting glucose and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, with no evidence of an association for coarse particulate matter.

Keywords: Air pollution; Cohort study; Glucose; Lipid; Particulate matter.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Fasting / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Republic of Korea
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Blood Glucose
  • Lipids
  • Particulate Matter