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Occupational exposure to particles and incidence of acute myocardial infarction and other ischaemic heart disease
  1. Pernilla Wiebert1,
  2. Maria Lönn1,
  3. Karin Fremling1,
  4. Maria Feychting1,
  5. Bengt Sjögren1,
  6. Gun Nise2,
  7. T Kauppinen3,
  8. Nils Plato1,
  9. Per Gustavsson1
  1. 1Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. 3Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence toDr Pernilla Wiebert, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Norrbacka Building Level 3, S-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden; pernilla.wiebert{at}


Background Ambient particulate air pollution has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Occupational particle exposure levels may be several times higher than ambient levels but has been less studied.

Objectives The authors investigated the association between occupational exposure to particles and the incidence of ischaemic heart disease (IHD).

Methods The cohort included all manual workers in the Swedish national census of 1980 with information on demographic data and occupation. Information on hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction or other IHDs and cause of death were obtained from nation-wide registers. A job-exposure matrix for exposure to small (<1 μm) and large (>1 μm) particles was developed. HRs were calculated with Cox regression with adjustment for sex, age, socioeconomic group and urban/rural residential area.

Results Exposure to small particles was associated with an increased HR for acute myocardial infarction of 1.12 (95% CI 1.09 to 1.15), and HR for exposure to large particles was 1.14 (95% CI 1.10 to 1.18). The association was somewhat stronger for workers exposed to small particles for more than 5 years, 1.21 (95% CI 1.11 to 1.31), but no trend with exposure intensity was found. The risk associated with exposure to small particles was higher among women than among men, 1.30 (95% CI 1.12 to 1.51) and 1.10 (95% CI 1.07 to 1.14), respectively. Findings were essentially similar for other IHDs.

Conclusions This explorative study gives some support to the hypothesis that occupational exposure to particles increases the risk of acute myocardial infarction and other IHD. The findings must be interpreted cautiously due to lack of smoking data.

  • Epidemiology
  • cardiovascular disease
  • retrospective exposure assessment
  • particulates
  • public health
  • hygiene/occupational hygiene
  • cardiovascular
  • allergy
  • biological monitoring
  • training and education
  • toxicokinetics
  • exposure monitoring
  • exposure assessment
  • solvents
  • pesticides
  • painters
  • noise
  • developing countries
  • respiratory
  • renal
  • occupational asthma
  • cancer
  • wood dust
  • asbestos
  • occupational health practice
  • risk assessment
  • preventive medicine
  • man-made mineral fibres
  • driving
  • diesel fumes

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  • Funding Financial support from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (grant number 2006-0849).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the regional ethics committee in Stockholm, Sweden.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.