2002 Progress Report: Quantifying Exposure Error and its Effect on Epidemiological Studies

EPA Grant Number: R827353C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827353
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: EPA Harvard Center for Ambient Particle Health Effects
Center Director: Koutrakis, Petros
Title: Quantifying Exposure Error and its Effect on Epidemiological Studies
Investigators: Suh, Helen H.
Current Investigators: Suh, Helen H. , Zanobetti, Antonella , Sarnat, Jeremy , Schwartz, Joel
Institution: Harvard University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: June 1, 1999 through May 31, 2005 (Extended to May 31, 2006)
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Airborne Particulate Matter (PM) Centers (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Particulate Matter , Air


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) estimate the contribution of particles of outdoor and indoor origin to personal particulate matter (PM2.5) exposures; (2) examine the potential for confounding by gaseous pollutants to affect epidemiological study results; and (3) investigate the ability of particles to penetrate from outdoor to indoor environments. To date, we have published several papers addressing these issues (Chang, et al., 2000; Long, et al., 2000; Sarnat, et al., 2000; Sarnat, et al., 2001; Sarnat, et al., 2002).

Progress Summary:

We have continued our research examining the impact of exposure-related factors on risk estimates from time-series studies of PM10 and hospital admissions. In a paper published last year, we used data from 14 cities located across the United States to examine the relationship between air conditioning prevalence and the coefficient for the association between ambient PM10 concentrations and cause-specific hospital admissions(Schwartz, et al., 2001). In addition, we examined whether observed variability in the risk coefficients was specifically related to PM10 emissions from mobile, combustion, and other sources. Results from these studies indicate that air-conditioning use explains a substantial amount of the variability in the risk coefficients from the different cities. Furthermore, PM10 emissions from mobile and diesel sources also were found to be important determinants of the variability in the risk coefficients, particularly for cardiovascular disease-related hospital admissions. Recently, we analyzed the same data to examine whether ventilation and source emission profiles explain season-specific risks of PM10 on hospital admissions in each of these 14 cities. A manuscript is almost completed (Suh, et al., in preparation, 2003).

Finally, using data from multipollutant exposure studies in Boston and Baltimore, simulations were conducted to assess the feasibility of health risks attributed to gases and particles (Schwartz, in preparation). Results provide evidence that the gaseous pollutants are unlikely confounders of PM health risk estimates for these locations.


Chang L, Koutrakis P, Catalano P, Suh H. Hourly personal exposures to fine particles and gaseous pollutants-results from Baltimore, Maryland. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association 2000;50:1223-1235.

Long CM, Suh H, Koutrakis P. Characterization of sources of indoor particle source using continuous mass and size monitors. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association 2000;50:1236-1251.

Sarnat JA, Schwartz J, Catalano PJ, Suh H. The role of gaseous pollutants in particulate matter epidemiology: confounder or surrogate. Environmental Health Perspectives 2001;109(10):1053-1062.

Sarnat JA, Long CM, Koutrakis P, Coull B, Schwartz J, Suh H. Using sulfur as a tracer of outdoor fine particulate matter. Environmental Science and Technology 2002;36:5305-5314.

Schwartz J. Is there harvesting in the association of airborne particles with daily deaths and hospital admissions? Epidemiology 2001;12:55-61.

Future Activities:

We will include the development and application of near-source and long-range atmospheric dispersion models to better quantify the relationship between emissions and concentrations of primary and secondary PM. The goal of this analysis will be to improve spatially resolved exposure estimates and reduce exposure misclassification.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 3 publications 3 publications in selected types All 3 journal articles
Other center views: All 200 publications 198 publications in selected types All 197 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Janssen NAH, Schwartz J, Zanobetti A, Suh HH. Air conditioning and source-specific particles as modifiers of the effect of PM10 on hospital admissions for heart and lung disease. Environmental Health Perspectives 2002;110(1):43-49. R827353 (Final)
R827353C002 (2000)
R827353C002 (2001)
R827353C002 (2002)
R827353C002 (2003)
R827353C002 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: ResearchGate-Abstract and PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    air pollution, air pollutants, particulates, particulate matter, PM, fine particles, PM2.5, exposure error, epidemiological studies, outdoor particles, indoor particles, PM exposures, gaseous pollutants, hospital admissions, risk coefficients, variability, urban air pollution, Boston, Massachusetts, MA, Baltimore, Maryland, MD, exposure estimates., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, particulate matter, Toxicology, air toxics, Environmental Chemistry, Epidemiology, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Environmental Microbiology, genetic susceptability, indoor air, tropospheric ozone, Molecular Biology/Genetics, Biology, ambient air quality, health effects, interindividual variability, molecular epidemiology, monitoring, particulates, risk assessment, sensitive populations, chemical exposure, air pollutants, cardiopulmonary responses, health risks, human health effects, indoor exposure, stratospheric ozone, ambient air monitoring, exposure and effects, ambient air, ambient measurement methods, exposure, pulmonary disease, developmental effects, epidemelogy, respiratory disease, air pollution, ambient monitoring, Human Health Risk Assessment, particle exposure, biological mechanism , cardiopulmonary response, human exposure, inhalation, pulmonary, particulate exposure, ambient particle health effects, mortality studies, inhaled, PM, atmospheric monitoring, human susceptibility, inhalation toxicology, cardiopulmonary, indoor air quality, inhaled particles, human health, measurement methods , quantifying exposure error, air quality, cardiovascular disease, dosimetry, human health risk, metals, respiratory, measurement methods, genetic susceptibility

    Relevant Websites:

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/epacenter/ Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R827353    EPA Harvard Center for Ambient Particle Health Effects

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R827353C001 Assessing Human Exposures to Particulate and Gaseous Air Pollutants
    R827353C002 Quantifying Exposure Error and its Effect on Epidemiological Studies
    R827353C003 St. Louis Bus, Steubenville and Atlanta Studies
    R827353C004 Examining Conditions That Predispose Towards Acute Adverse Effects of Particulate Exposures
    R827353C005 Assessing Life-Shortening Associated with Exposure to Particulate Matter
    R827353C006 Investigating Chronic Effects of Exposure to Particulate Matter
    R827353C007 Determining the Effects of Particle Characteristics on Respiratory Health of Children
    R827353C008 Differentiating the Roles of Particle Size, Particle Composition, and Gaseous Co-Pollutants on Cardiac Ischemia
    R827353C009 Assessing Deposition of Ambient Particles in the Lung
    R827353C010 Relating Changes in Blood Viscosity, Other Clotting Parameters, Heart Rate, and Heart Rate Variability to Particulate and Criteria Gas Exposures
    R827353C011 Studies of Oxidant Mechanisms
    R827353C012 Modeling Relationships Between Mobile Source Particle Emissions and Population Exposures
    R827353C013 Toxicological Evaluation of Realistic Emissions of Source Aerosols (TERESA) Study
    R827353C014 Identifying the Physical and Chemical Properties of Particulate Matter Responsible for the Observed Adverse Health Effects
    R827353C015 Research Coordination Core
    R827353C016 Analytical and Facilities Core
    R827353C017 Technology Development and Transfer Core