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J Prev Med Public Health. 2015 May;48(3):151-169. English. Original Article.
Kim KN , Lee H , Kim JH , Jung K , Lim YH , Hong YC .
Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Environmental Health, Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
Seoul Metropolitan Institute of Public Health and Environment, Seoul, Korea.
Institute of Environmental Medicine, Seoul National University Medical Research Center, Seoul, Korea.
Environmental Health Center, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

OBJECTIVES: The deleterious effects of air pollution on various health outcomes have been demonstrated. However, few studies have examined the effects of air pollution on liver enzyme levels. METHODS: Blood samples were drawn up to three times between 2008 and 2010 from 545 elderly individuals who regularly visited a community welfare center in Seoul, Korea. Data regarding ambient air pollutants (particulate matter < or =2.5 mum [PM2.5], nitrogen dioxide [NO2], ozone [O3], carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide) from monitoring stations were used to estimate air pollution exposure. The effects of the air pollutants on the concentrations of three liver enzymes (aspartate aminotransferase [AST], alanine aminotransferase [ALT], and gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase [gamma-GTP)]) were evaluated using generalized additive and linear mixed models. RESULTS: Interquartile range increases in the concentrations of the pollutants showed significant associations of PM2.5 with AST (3.0% increase, p=0.0052), ALT (3.2% increase, p=0.0313), and gamma-GTP (5.0% increase, p=0.0051) levels; NO2 with AST (3.5% increase, p=0.0060) and ALT (3.8% increase, p=0.0179) levels; and O3 with gamma-GTP (5.3% increase, p=0.0324) levels. Significant modification of these effects by exercise and alcohol consumption was found (p for interaction <0.05). The effects of air pollutants were greater in non-exercisers and heavy drinkers. CONCLUSIONS: Short-term exposure to air pollutants such as PM2.5, NO2, and O3 is associated with increased liver enzyme levels in the elderly. These adverse effects can be reduced by exercising regularly and abstinence from alcohol.

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