Occupational vehicle-related particulate exposure and inflammatory markers in trucking industry workers

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Previous studies have suggested an association between particulate air pollution and cardiovascular disease, but the mechanism is still unclear.


We examined the association between workplace exposure to vehicle-related particles and cardiovascular disease related systemic inflammatory markers, C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in 137 trucking terminal workers (non-drivers) in the U.S. trucking industry.


We visited two large trucking terminals in 2009 and measured vehicle-related elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC), and particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5), for 5 days consecutively at the main work areas. Each participant provided a blood sample and completed a health questionnaire during the sampling period. Individual workplace exposure level was calculated by 12-h time weighted moving averages based on work shift. The association between each blood marker and exposure to each pollutant during 0–12, 12–24, 24–36, and 36–48 h before the blood draw was examined by multivariable regression analyses.


In general, OC and EC had a positive association with sICAM-1, especially for exposure periods 12–24 (lag12-24) and 24–36 (lag24-36) h prior to blood draw [β=54.9 (95%CI: 12.3–97.5) for lag12-24 and β=46.5 (95%CI: 21.2–71.8) for lag12-24; change in sICAM-1 (in ng/mL) corresponding to an IQR increase in OC]. A similar pattern was found for EC and PM2.5. We did not find an association between measured pollutants up to 48 h before blood draw and hs-CRP or IL-6.


In this group of healthy workers, short-term exposure to vehicle-related air pollutants may be associated with sICAM-1. Our findings may be dependent on the exposure period studied.

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