Project 3: Causal Estimates of Effects of Regional and National Pollution Mixtures on Health: Providing Tools for Policy Makers

EPA Grant Number: R835872C003
Subproject: this is subproject number 003 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R835872
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Regional Air Pollution Mixtures
Center Director: Koutrakis, Petros
Title: Project 3: Causal Estimates of Effects of Regional and National Pollution Mixtures on Health: Providing Tools for Policy Makers
Investigators: Schwartz, Joel , Coull, Brent , Koutrakis, Petros , Zanobetti, Antonella
Institution: Harvard University , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Ilacqua, Vito
Project Period: May 1, 2016 through April 30, 2021
RFA: Air, Climate And Energy (ACE) Centers: Science Supporting Solutions (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air , Climate Change , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Airborne Particulate Matter Health Effects , Particulate Matter

Objective:

Air pollution mixtures differ spatially and vary day to day. Causal estimates of health effects of these mixtures, and of changes in their concentration over time, are lacking, but they are critical for targeting the most important interventions to mitigate the effects of air pollution on human health. Similarly, the effects of climate change on health impact of pollution, of modifiable factors, and of warning systems have not been examined in a causal framework. This project will estimate the causal impact of changes in pollution concentrations and mixtures (annual averages and daily patterns), how they vary by modifiable factors, the causal impacts of AQI triggers, how climate change that occurred in the last 20 years has increased mortality due to pollution, how temperature modifies the effects of pollution mixtures, and how these effects change for exposures less than the ambient standards for PM2.5. Project 3 addresses EPA ACE Center Research Question 1 by providing region-specific causal estimates of effects of pollution mixtures, Question 2 by providing causal estimates of the impact of modifiable factors, Question 3 by assessing the impact of climate change on mortality from air pollution using historic data, avoiding any dependence on the accuracy of climate models, and Question 4 by providing causal estimates of how changes in particular components of mixtures affect mortality, to guide region-specific policy decisions on air pollution.

Approach:

We will use exposure data provided by Research Project 1 and Medicare data for the entire US to analyze causal associations of exposure and mortality at the ZIP code level. We will identify the causal effects of regional air pollution concentration fluctuations and trends during the last 15 years on human health; how they are modified by different mixtures, by modifiable factors, and by region; conduct a national risk assessment on the causal impact of past pollution on mortality by region; and determine the causal impact of AQI thresholds for PM2.5 and O3 due to behavioral adaptation. We will also determine the excess deaths due to air pollution that have resulted from weather-induced air pollutant concentration increases in the last 20 years, and identify the health effects of pollution mixtures below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Expected Results:

Unique datasets and novel (for air pollution studies) methods will enable us to examine the causal impact on mortality of acute and chronic changes in pollution and pollution trends by region, by mixture, by modifiable factors, and by sources. We will identify the causal impacts of temperature changes on these impacts, and determine whether they persist at concentrations below the NAAQS. This project will provide essential information on the causal effects of pollution, the differences in the effects of different mixtures and in different regions, the benefits of prior actions, the most effective targets for future action, and the potential benefits of future actions.

Supplemental Keywords:

particles, particulate matter, pollutant mixtures, regional pollution, risk analysis, causal modeling


Main Center Abstract and Reports:

R835872    Regional Air Pollution Mixtures

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R835872C001 Project 1: Regional Air Pollution Mixtures: The Past and Future Impacts of Emission Controls and Climate Change on Air Quality and Health
R835872C002 Project 2: Air Pollutant Mixtures in Eastern Massachusetts: Spatial Multi-resolution Analysis of Trends, Effects of Modifiable Factors, Climate and Particle-induced Mortality
R835872C003 Project 3: Causal Estimates of Effects of Regional and National Pollution Mixtures on Health: Providing Tools for Policy Makers
R835872C004 A Causal Inference Framework to Support Policy Decisions by Evaluating the Effectiveness of Past Air Pollution Control Strategies for the Entire United States
R835872C005 Project 5: Projecting and Quantifying Future Changes in Socioeconomic Drivers of Air Pollution and its Health-Related Impacts