Effects of personal exposures to micro-and nano-particulate matter, black carbon, particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide on heart rate variability in a panel of healthy older subjects

Chin Sheng Tang, Kai Jen Chuang, Ta Yuan Chang, Hsiao Chi Chuang, Li Hsin Chen, Shih Chun Candice Lung, Li Te Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


As a non-invasive method, heart rate variability (HRV) has been widely used to study cardiovascular autonomous control. Environmental epidemiological studies indicated that the increase in an average concentration of particulate matter (PM) would result in a decrease in HRV, which was related to the increase of cardiovascular mortality in patients with myocardial infarction and the general population. With rapid economic and social development in Asia, how air pollutants, such as PM of different sizes and their components, affect the cardiovascular health of older people, still need to be further explored. The current study includes a 72 h personal exposure monitoring of seven healthy older people who lived in the Taipei metropolitan area. Mobile equipment, a portable electrocardiogram recorder, and the generalized additive mixed model (GAMM) were adopted to evaluate how HRV indices were affected by size-fractionated PM, particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (p-PAHs), black carbon (BC), and carbon monoxide (CO). Other related confounding factors, such as age, sex, body mass index (BMI), temperature, relative humidity (RH), time, and monitoring week were controlled by fixed effects of the GAMM. Statistical analyses of multi-pollutant models showed that PM2.5–10, PM1, and nanoparticle (NP) could cause heart rate (HR), time-domain indices, and frequency-domain indices to rise; PM1–2.5 and BC would cause the frequency-domain index to rise; p-PAHs would cause HR to rise, and CO would cause time-domain index and frequency-domain index to decline. In addition, the moving average time all fell after one hour and might appear at 8 h in HRVs’ largest percentage change caused by each pollutant, results of which suggested that size-fractionated PM, p-PAHs, BC, and CO exposures have delayed effects on HRVs. In conclusion, the results of the study showed that the increase in personal pollutant exposure would affect cardiac autonomic control function of healthy older residents in metropolitan areas, and the susceptibility of cardiovascular effects was higher than that of healthy young people. Since the small sample size would limit the generalizability of this study, more studies with larger scale are warranted to better understand the HRV effects of simultaneous PM and other pollution exposures for subpopulation groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4672
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019



  • Black carbon
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Healthy older adults
  • Heart rate variability
  • Particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Particulate matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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