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BACKGROUND: Air pollution derived from combustion is associated with considerable cardiorespiratory morbidity and mortality in addition to environmental effects. Replacing petrodiesel with biodiesel may have ecological benefits, but impacts on human health remain unquantified. The objective was to compare acute cardiovascular effects of blended and pure biodiesel exhaust exposure against known adverse effects of petrodiesel exhaust (PDE) exposure in human subjects. In two randomized controlled double-blind crossover studies, healthy volunteers were exposed to PDE or biodiesel exhaust for one hour. In study one, 16 subjects were exposed, on separate occasions, to PDE and 30% rapeseed methyl ester biodiesel blend (RME30) exhaust, aiming at PM10 300 μg/m3. In study two, 19 male subjects were separately exposed to PDE and exhaust from a 100% RME fuel (RME100) using similar engine load and exhaust dilution. Generated exhaust was analyzed for physicochemical composition and oxidative potential. Following exposure, vascular endothelial function was assessed using forearm venous occlusion plethysmography and ex vivo thrombus formation was assessed using a Badimon chamber model of acute arterial injury. Biomarkers of inflammation, platelet activation and fibrinolysis were measured in the blood. RESULTS: In study 1, PDE and RME30 exposures were at comparable PM levels (314 ± 27 μg/m3; (PM10 ± SD) and 309 ± 30 μg/m3 respectively), whereas in study 2, the PDE exposure concentrations remained similar (310 ± 34 μg/m3), but RME100 levels were lower in PM (165 ± 16 μg/m3) and PAHs, but higher in particle number concentration. Compared to PDE, PM from RME had less oxidative potential. Forearm infusion of the vasodilators acetylcholine, bradykinin, sodium nitroprusside and verapamil resulted in dose-dependent increases in blood flow after all exposures. Vasodilatation and ex vivo thrombus formation were similar following exposure to exhaust from petrodiesel and the two biodiesel formulations (RME30 and RME100). There were no significant differences in blood biomarkers or exhaled nitric oxide levels between exposures. CONCLUSIONS: Despite differences in PM composition and particle reactivity, controlled exposure to biodiesel exhaust was associated with similar cardiovascular effects to PDE. We suggest that the potential adverse health effects of biodiesel fuel emissions should be taken into account when evaluating future fuel policies. TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT01337882 /NCT01883466. Date of first enrollment March 11, 2011, registered April 19, 2011, i.e. retrospectively registered.

Original publication




Journal article


Part fibre toxicol

Publication Date





Air pollution, Biodiesel, Cardiovascular system, Diesel, Endothelial function, Particulate matter, Thrombosis, Vascular function, Vasomotor dysfunction, Air Pollution, Biofuels, Cross-Over Studies, Female, Humans, Male, Particulate Matter, Vasodilation, Vehicle Emissions