Although epidemiological studies on the effect of chronic fine particulate matter (PM) exposure on lipid disorders have been conducted, it is unclear if improved air quality is associated with beneficial changes in the blood lipid profile. In China, clean air actions introduced in 2013 have rapidly reduced the concentration of ambient PM.
We conducted a change-by-change study, based on two waves (2011 and 2015) of a national survey of the same 5111 Chinese adults before and after implementation of the clean air actions. Long-term PM exposure was assessed using a state-of-the-art estimator at the city level. Based on the within-individual differences between the two waves, we associated PM changes with the variations of four lipid biomarkers-triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)-using a mixed-effects regression model. The robustness and homogeneity of the association were tested via sensitivity analyses.
For each 10 μg/m reduction in PM, LDL-C, and TC decreased by 2.71 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.10-5.32) and 4.16 (95% CI 1.24-7.08)mg/dL, respectively. There was no significant association with HDL-C or TG. The results were robust among models adjusted for different covariates. PM was a significant risk factor for dyslipidemia with an adjusted relative risk of 1.21 (95% CI 1.09-1.34). The association between PM and LDL-C was stronger in the elderly or adults who did not take medications.
The results suggest that PM exert a cardiotoxic effect by increasing the risk of lipid disorders. Improvement of air quality could prevent dyslipidemia by reducing LDL-C and TC levels. Clean air policies should be implemented as public health measures in countries with aging societies, especially developing ones with a high air pollution burden.

Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.