Objectives: A growing number of epidemiological studies are showing that ambient exposure to particulate matter air pollution is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease; however, whether occupational exposure increases this risk is not clear. The aim of the present study was to examine whether occupational exposure to particulate air pollution increases the risk for ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.
Methods: The study population was a cohort of 176 309 occupationally exposed Swedish male construction workers and 71 778 unexposed male construction workers. The definition of exposure to inorganic dust (asbestos, man-made mineral fibres, dust from cement, concrete and quartz), wood dust, fumes (metal fumes, asphalt fumes and diesel exhaust) and gases and irritants (organic solvents and reactive chemicals) was based on a job-exposure matrix with focus on exposure in the mid-1970s. The cohort was followed from 1971 to 2002 with regard to mortality to ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. Relative risks (RR) were obtained by the person-years method and from Poisson regression models adjusting for baseline values of blood pressure, body mass index, age and smoking habits.
Results: Any occupational particulate air pollution was associated with an increased risk for ischemic heart disease (RR 1.13, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.19), but there was no increased risk for cerebrovascular disease (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.88 to 1.07). There was an increased risk for ischaemic heart disease and exposure to inorganic dust (RR 1.07, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.12) and exposure to fumes (RR 1.05, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.10), especially diesel exhaust (RR 1.18, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.24). There was no significantly increased risk for cerebrovascular disease and exposure to inorganic dust, fumes or wood dust.
Conclusions: Occupational exposure to particulate air pollution, especially diesel exhaust, among construction workers increases the risk for ischaemic heart disease.
- BMI, body mass index
- ICD, International Classification of Diseases
- JEM, job exposure matrix
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Published Online First 15 February 2007
Competing interests: None declared.
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