Association of short-term air pollution with systemic inflammatory biomarkers in routine blood test: A longitudinal study

Niu Di, Weiliang He, Kaihua Zhang, Jian Cui, Jiang Chen, Jinming Cheng, Bao Chu, Shanshan Li, Yinyu Xie, Hao Xiang, Hebo Wang, Gongbo Chen, Yuming Guo

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The biological mechanisms behind health effects of air pollution have not been well known. Inflammation plays an important role in occurrence and development of a wide range of diseases. In this study, we assessed the effects of short-term exposure to ambient air pollution on systemic inflammatory biomarkers among 12 508 participants who underwent routine physical examination annually at the Hebei General Hospital in Shijiazhuang, China. For each participant, white blood cell count (WBC), lymphocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils were measured for two or three times during September 2016 to December 2018. Daily concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and particulate matter less than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) were interpolated to each district, where the participants worked. The linear mixed-effects regression with a constrained distributed lag model was applied to examine the associations between air pollution and inflammatory biomarkers during lag 0-14 d. It was observed that WBC, neutrophils and eosinophils [percent change (%∆) and 95% confidence interval (95%CI)] significantly decreased by −0.07 (−0.11, −0.04), −0.08 (−0.12, −0.03) and −0.15 (−0.25, −0.05) at lag 14 d, associated with per 10 µg m3 increase in O3. WBC, lymphocytes and eosinophils (%∆ and 95%CI) significantly elevated by 0.08 (0.04, 0.12), 0.16 (0.11, 0.21) and 0.22 (0.10, 0.35) at lag 0 d, associated with per 10 µg m3 increase in PM2.5. This study reveals short-term effects of air pollution on systemic inflammatory biomarkers in routine blood test, which is helpful for further study to explore the biological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035007
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Air pollution
  • Constrained distributed lag model
  • Inflammatory biomarkers

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