2009 Progress Report: Cardiovascular Effects of Urban and Rural Coarse Particulate Matter in Obese and Lean Adults

EPA Grant Number: R833740
Title: Cardiovascular Effects of Urban and Rural Coarse Particulate Matter in Obese and Lean Adults
Investigators: Brook, Robert D. , Keeler, Gerald J. , Gold, Diane R. , Brook, Jeffrey R. , Dvonch, Joseph T. , Urch, Bruce , Silverman, Frances , Kaciroti, Niko
Institution: University of Michigan , Harvard University , University of Toronto
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: March 1, 2008 through February 28, 2011 (Extended to February 28, 2014)
Project Period Covered by this Report: March 1, 2009 through February 28,2010
Project Amount: $1,199,500
RFA: Sources, Composition, and Health Effects of Coarse Particulate Matter (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Particulate Matter


Coarse particulate matter (PM10-2.5) is a heterogeneous mixture of crustal materials, trace metals/elements, and bio-aerosols. The components vary considerably due to location differences in primary sources. Despite fewer studies than for fine particulate matter (PM), epidemiological evidence suggests that coarse PM may also be associated with an increased risk for acute cardiovascular (CV) events. In order to support the biological plausibility that coarse PM exposure is causally linked to CV disease, it is essential to demonstrate that it can rapidly trigger adverse biological responses in humans capable of acutely promoting CV events. The overall hypothesis is that short-term exposure to both urban and rural coarse PM is capable of promoting pro-vasoconstrictive vascular dysfunctions and CV autonomic imbalance. This proposal aims to demonstrate that short-term concentrated ambient coarse PM (CAP) inhalation (1) triggers pro-vasoconstrictive vascular dysfunctions related to (mediated by) CV autonomic imbalance; and (2) that these responses occur to a greater degree in obese than in lean adults; and (3) we aim to elucidate the constituents/sources responsible for the CV responses and to perform detailed characterizations of differences in rural vs. urban coarse PM to improve the epidemiological understanding of coarse PM.

Progress Summary:

In years 1 and 2, we have completed the purchasing of all necessary research equipment and validated the medical and air pollution research protocols to be employed during the exposure protocols. The construction and instillation of the coarse CAP concentrator system within the newly constructed mobile exposure facility (AIRCARE-2) was delayed, but was successfully completed by December 2009. Unanticipated administrative delays have postponed our ability to complete necessary site modifications and building at our rural exposure location. This has significantly delayed the beginning of human exposure by approximately 15 months.

Future Activities:

We anticipate completion of site modifications by September 2010. Afterwards, we will perform a series of coarse CAP exposures in rural (Dexter) Michigan . We will expose 25 lean (BMI<28 kg/m2) + 25 Obese (BMI>30 kg/m2) subjects (50 total subjects) to rural coarse CAP (150-300 μg/m3) and filtered air for 2 hours each (100 exposures in total) using the new mobile AIRCARE-2 exposure facility. These 50 subjects will then receive in the following study year coarse CAP at the urban site location at Dearborn Michigan (3 separate exposure to each subject). Outcomes will be measured before, after, and 23 hrs post exposures. "Primary" outcomes include CAP-induced changes in autonomic balance (heart rate variability (HRV)), and pro-vasoconstrictive vascular dysfunctions [vasoconstriction (brachial artery diameter by ultrasound) and a pro-hypertensive reaction (within-exposure blood pressure (BP))]. Brachial artery endothelial-dependent vasodilatation will also be assessed (ultrasound). Complementary/exploratory outcomes will include intra-exposure continuous BP/hemodynamic assessment (Finometer), cardiac output (echocardiography), microvascular endothelial function (endo-PAT), central aortic hemodynamics/compliance (SphygmoCor), and biomarkers of systemic oxidative stress/inflammation. The CAP exposures will be extensively characterized for mass, constituents, and sources and correlated to the biological outcome responses.

This protocol will be the first to investigate the vascular effects of coarse PM. In addition, the susceptibility of an obese sub-population and the relative CV toxicity of two differing coarse PM exposures (derived from a rural versus urban location) comprised of differing constituents and from differing sources will be explored. It is expected that exposures to both rural and urban coarse PM will cause arterial vasoconstriction and raise BP and that obese individuals will have a greater adverse response via mechanisms involving autonomic imbalance. These results will provide biological plausibility that coarse PM, even of varying composition and sources, is capable of triggering CV events. Moreover, the extensive coarse PM characterization at three locations will in-itself significantly enhance our level of understanding of coarse PM epidemiology in rural and urban environments.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 7 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Health effects, sensitive populations, ethnic groups, exposure, epidemiology, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, particulate matter, Health Risk Assessment, Environmental Chemistry, Biology, atmospheric particulate matter, sensitive populations, atmospheric particles, cardiopulmonary responses, human health effects, bioavailability, cardiovascular vulnerability, sensitive subgroups, cardiotoxicity

Relevant Websites:


Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • Final Report