Long-termexposure to road traffic noise, ambient air pollution, and cardiovascular risk factors in the HUNTand lifelines cohorts

Yutong Cai*, Anna L. Hansell, Marta Blangiardo, Paul R. Burton, Kees De Hoogh, Dany Doiron, Isabel Fortier, John Gulliver, Kristian Hveem, Stéphane Mbatchou, David W. Morley, Ronald P. Stolk, Wilma L. Zijlema, Paul Elliott, Susan Hodgson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Aims Blood biochemistry may provide information on associations between road traffic noise, air pollution, and cardiovascular disease risk. We evaluated this in two large European cohorts (HUNT3, Lifelines). Methods and results Road traffic noise exposure was modelled for 2009 using a simplified version of the Common Noise Assessment Methods in Europe (CNOSSOS-EU). Annual ambient air pollution (PM10, NO2) at residence was estimated for 2007 using a Land Use Regression model. The statistical platform DataSHIELD was used to pool data from 144 082 participants aged ≥20 years to enable individual-level analysis. Generalized linear models were fitted to assess cross-sectional associations between pollutants and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), blood lipids and for (Lifelines only) fasting blood glucose, for samples taken during recruitment in 2006-2013. Pooling both cohorts, an inter-quartile range (IQR) higher day-time noise (5.1 dB(A)) was associated with 1.1% [95% confidence interval (95% CI: 0.02-2.2%)] higher hsCRP, 0.7% (95% CI: 0.3-1.1%) higher triglycerides, and 0.5% (95% CI: 0.3-0.7%) higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL); only the association with HDL was robust to adjustment for air pollution. An IQR higher PM10 (2.0 mg/m3) or NO2 (7.4 mg/m3) was associated with higher triglycerides (1.9%, 95% CI: 1.5- 2.4% and 2.2%, 95% CI: 1.6-2.7%), independent of adjustment for noise. Additionally for NO2, a significant association with hsCRP (1.9%, 95% CI: 0.5-3.3%) was seen. In Lifelines, an IQR higher noise (4.2 dB(A)) and PM10 (2.4 mg/ m3) was associated with 0.2% (95% CI: 0.1-0.3%) and 0.6% (95% CI: 0.4-0.7%) higher fasting glucose respectively, with both remaining robust to adjustment for air/noise pollution. Conclusion Long-term exposures to road traffic noise and ambient air pollution were associated with blood biochemistry, providing a possible link between road traffic noise/air pollution and cardio-metabolic disease risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2290-2296
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
P.E. is an NIHR Senior Investigator and acknowledges support from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London Biomedical Research Centre, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit on the Health Effects of Environmental Hazards, the Medical Research Council and Public Health England (MRC-PHE) Centre for Environment and Health. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Health, the NHS or the NIHR.

Funding Information:
European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) Biobank Standardisation and Harmonisation for Research Excellence in the European Union-BioSHaRE-EU (Grant Number 261433). DataSHIELD development is also partly funded under a strategic award from UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust underpinning the ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) project; and the Welsh and Scottish Farr Institutes funded by MRC, BBMRI-LPC (EU-FP7, I3 grant). The Lifelines Cohort Study, and generation and management of GWAS genotype data for the Lifelines Cohort Study is supported by the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research NWO (Grant Number 175.010.2007.006); the Ministry of Economic Affairs; the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Sports; the Northern Netherlands Collaboration of Provinces (SNN); the Province of Groningen; University Medical Center Groningen, the University of Groningen; Dutch Kidney Foundation; and Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation. ESCAPE project was supported by European Community’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2011) (Grant Number 211250). The MRC-PHE centre for Environment and Health is funded by the UK Medical Research Council and Public Health England (Grant Number MR/L01341X/1). This work used the computing resources of the UK MEDical BIOinformatics partnership (UK MED-BIO) which is supported by the Medical Research Council (Grant Number MR/L01632X/1). Y.C. acknowledges support from the Early-Career Research Fellowship awarded by the UK Medical Research Council-Public Health England Centre for Environment and Health (Grant Number MR/M501669/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2016.


  • Air pollution
  • Blood glucose
  • Blood lipids
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Traffic noise


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