Exposure to particulate matter (PM) may be a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and obesity. However, whether body fat accumulation exerts mediating effects on the association between air pollutant exposure and OSA aggravation remains unclear. This study retroactively acquired the polysomnographic data (sleep variables) and body composition information from 2893 patients in a northern Taiwan sleep center. The levels of exposure to various air pollutants were estimated using an adjusted method based on data from governmental air quality monitoring stations near registered residential addresses instead of only referencing the nearest station. The sleep disorder indices and body fat metrics, which served as the outcomes of interest, were transformed using the Box-Cox transformation. Multiple linear regression models and causal mediation analysis were employed to investigate the associations between the analyzed parameters and the estimated air pollutant exposure at various time scales (1-, 6-, and 12-month). Significant associations were observed between the increased interquartile range (IQR) of short-term (1-month) exposure to PM ≤ 10 μm (PM10), PM ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5), and the apnea–hypopnea index (AHI), oxygen desaturation index (ODI), and arousal index (ArI). Short-term (1-month) exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 was significantly associated with increased trunk fat percentage. Causal mediation analysis revealed that short-term (1-month) exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 affected trunk fat percentage, thereby partially meditating the elevations in AHI, ODI, and ArI. PM exposure may directly increase sleep disorder indices and alter body fat, thereby mediating the worsening of OSA manifestations (i.e., increased AHI, ODI, and ArI).

Original languageEnglish
Article number101886
JournalAtmospheric Pollution Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Air pollution
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Particulate matter
  • Short-term exposure
  • Trunk fat percentage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science


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