Exposure to ambient air particulate matter (PM) has been linked to decline in pulmonary function and cardiovascular events possibly through inflammation. Little is known about individual exposure to ultrafine particles (UFP) inside and outside modern homes and associated health-related effects.
Associations between vascular and lung function, inflammation markers and exposure in terms of particle number concentration (PNC; d = 10-300 nm) were studied in a cross-sectional design with personal and home indoor monitoring in the Western Copenhagen Area, Denmark. During 48-h, PNC and PM2.5 were monitored in living rooms of 60 homes with 81 non-smoking subjects (30-75 years old), 59 of whom carried personal monitors both when at home and away from home. We measured lung function in terms of the FEV1/FVC ratio, microvascular function (MVF) and pulse amplitude by digital artery tonometry, blood pressure and biomarkers of inflammation including C-reactive protein, and leukocyte counts with subdivision in neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and lymphocytes in blood.
PNC from personal and stationary home monitoring showed weak correlation (r = 0.15, p = 0.24). Personal UFP exposure away from home was significantly inversely associated with MVF (1.3% decline per interquartile range, 95% confidence interval: 0.1-2.5%) and pulse amplitude and positively associated with leukocyte and neutrophil counts. The leukocyte and neutrophil counts were also positively and pulse amplitude negatively associated with total personal PNC. Indoor PNC and PM2.5 showed positive association with blood pressure and inverse association with eosinophil counts.
The inverse association between personal exposure away from home and MVF is consistent with adverse health effects of UFP from sources outside the home and might be related to increased inflammation indicated by leukocyte counts, whereas UFP from sources in the home could have less effect.
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