Is Environmental and Occupational Particulate Air Pollution Exposure Related to Type-2 Diabetes and Dementia? A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the UK Biobank

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Abstract

Human exposure to particulate air pollution (e.g., PM2.5) can lead to adverse health effects, with compelling evidence that it can increase morbidity and mortality from respiratory and cardiovascular disease. More recently, there has also been evidence that long-term environmental exposure to particulate air pollution is associated with type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and dementia. There are many occupations that may expose workers to airborne particles and that some exposures in the workplace are very similar to environmental particulate pollution. We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the UK Biobank cohort to verify the association between environmental particulate air pollution (PM2.5) exposure and T2DM and dementia, and to investigate if occupational exposure to particulates that are similar to those found in environmental air pollution could increase the odds of developing these diseases. The UK Biobank dataset comprises of over 500,000 participants from all over the UK. Environmental exposure variables were used from the UK Biobank. To estimate occupational exposure both the UK Biobank’s data and information from a job exposure matrix, specifically developed for UK Biobank (Airborne Chemical Exposure–Job Exposure Matrix (ACE JEM)), were used. The outcome measures were participants with T2DM and dementia. In appropriately adjusted models, environmental exposure to PM2.5 was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.02 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.03) per unit exposure for developing T2DM, while PM2.5 was associated with an odds ratio of 1.06 (95% CI 0.96 to 1.16) per unit exposure for developing dementia. These environmental results align with existing findings in the published literature. Five occupational exposures (dust, fumes, diesel, mineral, and biological dust in the most recent job estimated with the ACE JEM) were investigated and the risks for most exposures for T2DM and for all the exposures for dementia were not significantly increased in the adjusted models. This was confirmed in a subgroup of participants where a full occupational history was available allowed an estimate of workplace exposures. However, when not adjusting for gender, some of the associations become significant, which suggests that there might be a bias between the occupational assessments for men and women. The results of the present study do not provide clear evidence of an association between occupational exposure to particulate matter and T2DM or dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9581
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • ACE JEM
  • Air pollution
  • Dementia
  • Environmental exposure
  • Epidemiological analysis
  • Epidemiology
  • Occupational exposure
  • Particulate matter
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • UK Biobank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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