Cardiovascular changes in workers exposed to fine particulate dust

Alicja Bortkiewicz 1, 2  ,  
Department of Work Physiology and Ergonomics, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland
Department of Work Physiology and Ergonomics, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, św. Teresy 8, 91-348, Łódź, Poland
Department of Environmental Health Hazards, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland
Institute of Psychology, University of Lodz, Łódź, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2014;27(1):78–92
Objectives: Epidemiological studies provide evidence that airborne particulate matter may contribute to the increased incidence and mortality rates due to pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. Only some of them address the problem of occupational exposure to particulate air pollution. The aim of our study was to assess cardiovascular reaction and autonomic regulation in workers exposed to fine particles. Materials and Methods: All workers had medical examination, resting ECG with heart rate variability analysis (HRV), 24-h ECG, and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) performed. The subjects were 20 male workers (mean age: 32.14.0 year) of a ceramic ware factory exposed to the dust and 20 workers who were not exposed (mean age: 39.4±7.8 year). The period of employment under exposure amounted to 5.6±2.1 year. Dust exposure was measured using individual dosimeters. Results: The geometric mean total dust concentration was 44±1.5 mg/m3 and the FPD (fine particulate dust) concentration amounted to 11.5±1.6 mg/m3. No abnormalities were noted in the resting ECG in both groups, in 24-h ECG 2 subjects, both from exposed and control groups, had ventricular heart rhythm and repolarization disturbances. Blood pressure in ABPM, both systolic as well as diastolic, was normal and did not differ between the groups. Resting heart rate in the exposed group was significantly lower (p = 0.038) than in the control group. In the exposed group STD R-R from short-term records was significantly higher (p = 0.01). Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis showed that the low frequency power spectrum (LF) did not differ in the exposed and the control group, while high frequency (HF) was significantly higher in the exposed group. LF/HF ratio was significantly lower in the exposed in comparison with the control group. Conclusions: Although we did not reveal significant abnormalities in ECG as well as in ABPM in the exposed group, it seems that neurovegetative disturbances (parasympathetic predominance) may serve as an early indicator of fine particulate dust effect on cardiovascular system.