Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are environmental and occupational carcinogens that are produced by the incomplete combustion of organic material, such as that from tobacco, coal, and petroleum. In addition to causing lung cancer, exposure to high levels of PAHs is hypothesized to contribute to atherosclerosis and lead to increased rates of cardiovascular disease. Considering the number of deaths attributable to tobacco smoke exposure, ambient air pollution, and occupational hazards, PAHs may be a significant contributor to the high prevalence and mortality rate of cardiovascular disease. However, a clear exposure-response relationship between PAH and cardiovascular disease has not been demonstrated. While PAH exposure has been shown to be associated with indicators of cardiovascular disease in animal experiments, this relationship has not been studied adequately in large human populations. Using data from the National Health and Nurition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected since 1999, this proposed study will investigate associations between urinary metabolites of PAHs and self-reported and laboratory measures of cardiovascular disease. Information regarding individuals'occupation, exposure to tobacco smoke and residence in areas with clean indoor air laws will be included to investigate factors associated with PAH exposure.
The specific aims are: 1. To determine if exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is associated with clinical and self- reported indicators of cardiovascular disease in children and adults in the U.S. 2. To determine if exposure to environmental sources of PAHs at home or in the workplace is associated with elevated levels of urinary metabolites of PAHs. 3. To determine if exposure to high levels of ambient air pollution is associated with elevated levels of urinary metabolites of PAHs when controlled for smoking status and exposure to secondhand smoke. Cardiovascular disease remains the single largest cause of death in the United States. Understanding the contribution of PAH exposure to the development of cardiovascular disease will provide important insight into new strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease. Results of this proposed study can be used to influence policy decisions and resource allocation for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
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