Risk of cardiovascular diseases following residential exposure to airborne polychlorinated biphenyls: A register-based cohort study


BACKGROUND: Indoor air in buildings constructed with materials containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may be contaminated with especially lower-chlorinated PCBs. So far, the cardiovascular consequences of living with such contamination are unknown.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) following residential exposure to predominantly lower-chlorinated PCBs in indoor air.

METHODS: The Health Effects of PCBs in Indoor Air (HESPAIR) cohort is register-based with 51 921 residents of two residential areas near Copenhagen: Farum Midtpunkt and Brøndby Strand Parkerne. Here, indoor air was contaminated with PCB in one third of the apartments due to construction with materials containing PCB. Individual PCB exposure was estimated based on register-based information on relocation dates and indoor air PCB measurements in subsets of the apartments. Information on CVD was retrieved from the Danish National Patient Register for the follow-up period of 1977-2018. We estimated adjusted hazard ratios using Cox regression with time-varying exposure.

RESULTS: Cumulative residential exposure to airborne PCB was not associated with a higher overall risk for CVD (HR for highly exposed (≥3300 ng/m3 PCB × year): 1.02, 95% CI 0.94-1.10). This was also the case for most of the specific cardiovascular diseases, apart from acute myocardial infarction where a higher risk was observed for residents exposed to ≥3300 ng/m3 PCB × year compared to the reference group (HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.00-1.35). However, no exposure-response relationship was apparent and additional adjustment for education attenuated the risk estimate.

DISCUSSION: In this, to our knowledge, first study ever to examine the risk of CVD following residential exposure to PCBs in indoor air, we observed limited support for cardiovascular effects of living in PCB-contaminated indoor air. Considering the prevalence of exposure to airborne PCBs and lack of literature on their potential health effects, these findings need to be corroborated in other studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115354
JournalEnvironmental Research
Pages (from-to)115354
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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