Personal exposure to particulate air pollution and vascular damage in peri-urban South India

Environ Int. 2020 Jun:139:105734. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.105734. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


Objective: Air pollution is a leading preventable risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Previous studies mostly relied on concentrations at residence, which might not represent personal exposure. Personal air pollution exposure has a greater variability compared with levels of ambient air pollution, facilitating evaluation of exposure-response functions and vascular pathophysiology. We aimed to evaluate the association between predicted annual personal exposure to PM2.5 and black carbon (BC) and three vascular damage markers in peri-urban South India.

Methods: We analyzed the third wave of the APCAPS cohort (2010-2012), which recruited participants from 28 villages. We used predicted personal exposure to PM2.5 and BC derived from 610 participant-days of 24 h average gravimetric PM2.5 and BC measurements and predictors related to usual time-activity. Outcomes included carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cf-PWV) and augmentation index (AIx). We fit linear mixed models, adjusting for potential confounders and accounting for the clustered data structure. We evaluated nonlinear associations using generalized additive mixed models.

Results: Of the 3017 participants (mean age 38 years), 1453 (48%) were women. The average PM2.5 exposure was 51 µg/m3 (range 13-85) for men, and 61 µg/m3 (range 40-120) for women, while the average BC was 4 µg/m3 (range 3-7) for men and 8 µg/m3 (range 3-22) for women. A 10 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5 was positively associated with CIMT (0.026 mm, 95% CI 0.014, 0.037), cf-PWV (0.069 m/s, 95% CI 0.008, 0.131) and AIx (0.8%, 95% CI 0.3, 1.3) among men. The exposure-response function for PM2.5 and AIx among men showed non-linearity, particularly within the exposure range dominated by tobacco smoking and occupational exposures. Both PM2.5 and BC were positively associated with AIx among women (0.6%, 95% CI 0.2, 1.0, per 10 μg/m3 PM2.5; 0.5%, 95% CI 0.1, 0.8, per 2 μg/m3 BC).

Conclusions: Personal exposure to particulate matter was associated with vascular damage in a peri-urban population in South India. Personal exposure to particulate matter appears to have gender-specific effects on the type of vascular damage, potentially reflecting differences in sources of personal exposure by gender.

Keywords: Air pollution; Black carbon; Cardiovascular disease; India; Particulate matter; Personal exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Pulse Wave Analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter