Objectives Highway maintenance workers are exposed to elevated particle and noise levels during their work. Exposure to particles as well as to noise has been linked to cardiovascular diseases. Thus, this worker population may be at higher cardiovascular risk. With our study we aimed to provide a better understanding of the workers’ exposure and to assess associated short-term health effects.
Methods We monitored the particle and noise exposure of 18 road maintenance workers during five repeated, non-consecutive work shifts and measured health endpoints including blood pressure, selected blood markers for inflammation and thrombosis, continuous ECG as well as lung function and exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO).
Results The workers’ exposure to particles and noise was variable between work shifts and depended on work activities. Fine particle (PM2.5) mass concentrations over full work shifts ranged from 20.3 µg/m3 to 321 µg/m3. Particle number concentrations were between 1.6E4 particles/cm3 and 4.1E5 particles/cm3. Averaged noise levels were frequently above 85dB[A], ranging from 73.3 dB[A] to 99.6 dB[A]. The 17 subjects included for health assessments had an average age of 45.2 years (SD 7.6) and a BMI of 26.6 kg/m2 (2.6). Average systolic/diastolic blood pressure 15 hours after work was 120.3 (11.7)/77.0 (7.5) [mmHg]; mean FeNO 19.0 ppb (7.6). Mean blood levels of C reactive protein and IL-8 were 2.5 µg/ml (3.7) and 12.2 pg/ml (3.8) respectively.
Conclusions Our database serves as a basis to investigate short-term health effects using mixed effect regression models. We hypothesise to find particle related changes in heart rate variability and inflammation markers and we will investigate combined health effects of particles and noise. The variable exposure and the low association between particles and noise are a good opportunity to study health outcomes related to these two exposure types in the near-road environment.
This abstract does not necessarily represent US EPA policy.