Exposure to ambient air pollution and lipid levels and blood pressure in an adult, Danish cohort

Nina Roswall*, Aslak Harbo Poulsen, Ulla Arthur Hvidtfeldt, Peter Fjeldstad Hendriksen, Katja Boll, Jytte Halkjær, Matthias Ketzel, Jørgen Brandt, Lise Marie Frohn, Jesper Heile Christensen, Ulas Im, Mette Sørensen, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: Air pollution is a well-recognized risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanistic pathways underlying the association are not completely understood. Hence, further studies are required to shed light on potential mechanisms, through which air pollution may affect the development from subclinical to clinical cardiovascular disease. Objectives: To investigate associations between short-term exposure to air pollution and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), non-high density lipoprotein (non-HDL), systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Methods: The study was conducted among 32,851 Danes from the Diet, Cancer and Health – Next Generations cohort, who had a blood sample taken and blood pressure measured. We measured HDL and non-HDL in the blood samples. We modelled exposure to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), ultrafine particles (UFP), elemental carbon (EC) and nitrogen dioxide (NO 2) in time-windows from 24 h up to 90 days before blood sampling. Pollutants were modelled as total air pollution from all sources, and apportioned into contributions from non-traffic and traffic sources. We analyzed data using linear and logistic regression, with adjustment for socio-economic and lifestyle factors. Results: Air pollution exposure over 24 h to 30 days was generally adversely associated with lipid profile and blood pressure, e.g. for 30-day UFP-exposure, adjusted β-estimates were: −0.025 (−0.043; −0.006) for HDL, 0.086 (0.042; 0.130) for non-HDL, 2.45 (1.70; 3.11) for systolic and 1.56 (1.07; 20.4) for diastolic blood pressure, per 10,000 particles/cm 3. The strongest associations were found for the non-traffic components of air pollution, and among those who were overweight/obese. Discussion: In this large study of air pollution and lipid levels and blood pressure, we found that 24-h to 30-day PM 2.5, UFP, EC and NO 2 concentrations were generally adversely associated with lipid profile and blood pressure, two important cardiovascular risk factors. The study suggests potential pathways, through which air pollution could affect the development of cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115179
JournalEnvironmental Research
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Blood pressure
  • Elemental carbon
  • Lipid profile
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • PM2.5
  • Ultra-fine particles


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