Exposure to airborne polychlorinated biphenyls and type 2 diabetes in a Danish cohort

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Background: Previous research indicates an association between higher-chlorinated polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, less is known about the extent to which PCB exposure in indoor air, composed primarily of lower-chlorinated PCBs, affects T2D risk. We assessed the association between indoor air exposure to PCBs in residential buildings and T2D incidence. Methods: The register-based ‘Health Effects of PCBs in Indoor Air’ (HESPAIR) cohort comprises 51,921 Danish residents of two residential areas with apartments built with and without PCB-containing materials (reference apartments). We assessed exposure status by combining register-based information on relocation history with extrapolated values of exposure based on PCB-measurements in indoor air from subsets of the apartments. T2D cases were identified in the Danish registers during 1977–2018. We estimated adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using Cox regression analyses with time-varying exposure. Results: We identified 2737 incident T2D cases during the follow-up. Exposure to ≥3300 ng/m3 PCB × year (3rd tertile of PCByear) was associated with higher risk of T2D (HR 1.15, 95% CI 1.02–1.30) compared with exposure to <300 ng/m3 PCB × year (reference). However, among individuals with lower cumulated PCByear, the risk was similar to residents with exposure <300 ng/m3 PCB × year (300–899 ng/m3 PCB × year: HR 0.98, 95% CI 0.87–1.11; 900–3299 ng/m3 PCB × year: HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.83–1.10). Discussion: We observed a marginally higher risk of T2D, but there was no evidence of an exposure-response relationship. The results should be interpreted with caution until confirmed in other independent studies of PCB exposure in indoor air.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117000
JournalEnvironmental Research
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2023

    Research areas

  • Environmental pollutants, Lower-chlorinated PCBs, PCBs, Volatile PCBs

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