Occupational PAH exposure ups risk of cardiovascular disease
Occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) leads to higher levels of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk markers, a recent study has shown.
Compared with the 152 controls (median age 43 years), chimney sweeps (n=151; median age 43 years) had significantly higher levels of exposure to the PAHs 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OH-PYR), 3-hydroxybenzo[a]pyrene (3-OH-BaP), 2-hydroxyphenanthrene (2-OH-PH) and 3-hydrxoybenzo[a]anthracene (3-OH-BaA; p<0.001 for all) even after controlling for age, smoking and BMI.
Specifically, the gravity-adjusted concentration of 1-OH-PYR was seven times higher in chimney sweeps than in controls. Values were four times higher for 2-OH-PH and three times higher for both 3-OH-BaP and 3-OH-BaA.
Levels of homocysteine (p≤0.001), high-density lipoprotein (HDL; p≤0.004) and cholesterol (p≤0.01) were all significantly elevated in chimney sweeps compared with healthy controls, according to the general linear models. Levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins were higher but did not reach statistical significance.
In the final model, adjusted for all possible confounders such as smoking status and exposure to PAH from hobbies, only the association between 2-OH-PH and diastolic blood pressure remained statistically significant (β, 1.72; 95 percent CI, 0.66 to 2.78; p=0.002).
Chimney sweeps were recruited from 29 different companies across Sweden and usually performed soot sweeping, white sweeping and office work. Controls were employees from other companies and were not routinely expose to PAH.
Urine samples were collected from the participants and subjected to liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry to measure PAH metabolite levels in urine. On the other hand, CVD markers were measured from serum samples.