Biomass smoke at higher concentrations is associated with respiratory symptoms and, after years of exposure, increased risk of respiratory disorders in adults, but its effects on cardiovascular diseases are not well characterized, particularly compared with other pollution sources like tobacco smoke or traffic.
We conducted a cross-sectional study and enrolled 25 women living in rural Sichuan, China. We measured integrated 24-h personal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon, and measured PM2.5 and black carbon in their kitchens. We assessed participants' brachial and central blood pressure and arterial stiffness using pulse wave analysis, and analyzed dried blood spot and buccal cell samples for C-reactive protein and relative telomere length. We also evaluated the difference in these physiological and biomarker measures between individuals with high (≥median) versus low (
Geometric mean 24-h PM2.5 and black carbon exposures were 61 µg/m(3) (95% CI: 48, 78) and 3.2 µg/m(3) (95% CI: 2.3, 4.5), respectively. Average kitchen PM2.5 and black carbon concentrations were only moderately correlated with personal exposures (PM2.5: r=0.41; black carbon: r=0.63), although they had similar means. Women in the high and low exposure groups were similar in age, obesity, socioeconomic status, salt intake, and physical activity. Women in the high PM2.5 exposure group had higher mean brachial systolic blood pressure (SBP; difference=4.6 mmHg, 95% CI -7.8, 16.9), central SBP (difference=3.1 mmHg, 95% CI: -8.4, 14.5), central pulse pressure (difference=4.1 mmHg; 95% CI: -4.2, 12.4), and augmentation index (difference=2.8%, 95% CI: -1.6, 7.2). High exposed women had 43% shorter telomere length (95% CI: -113, 28) than that of women in the low exposure group. There were no differences in pulse wave velocity or C-reactive protein between the two exposure groups. None of the results was statistically significant.
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Our results suggest that it is feasible to measure markers of vascular function and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in field studies of biomass smoke. Although many of the associations were in the expected direction, larger studies would be needed to establish the effects.