PROJECT OF MERIT
Dr. Sericea Stallings-Smith | Brooks College of Health | Department of Public Health
Background: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are environmental pollutants released through multiple processes including manufacturing, automotive emissions, and tobacco smoking. Previous evidence has shown that exposure to PAHs is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, but the association with stroke has not specifically been examined.
Methods: The study used cross-sectional data from the 2005 to 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 8,650 subjects. Multivariable logistic regression was utilized to investigate the association between exposure to PAHs and an outcome of stroke. The exposure distribution for each PAH was divided into quintiles with the lowest level of exposure designated as the reference group. All statistical models were adjusted for potential confounders that have the capacity to influence both the exposure and outcome: age, sex, race, poverty-income ratio, and serum cotinine (used as a quantitative measure of smoking exposure).
Results: When compared with the lowest quintiles, the highest quintiles of exposure to 1-hydroxynaphthalene (aOR = 2.46; 95% CI: 1.43-4.21), 2-hydroxynaphthalene (aOR = 2.26; 95% CI: 1.28-4.01), 2-hydroxyfluorene (aOR = 1.80; 95% CI: 1.06-3.06), 3-hydroxyfluorene (aOR = 1.76; 95% CI: 1.02-3.04), and a summed variable of all low molecular weight PAHs (aOR = 2.32; 95% CI: 1.39-3.85) showed a positive association with stroke.
Conclusions: Exposure to high levels of PAHs are positively associated with stroke in the U.S. general population. These findings add to the growing body of evidence indicating the potential harms of PAH exposure.