Health Effects of Air Pollution and Mitigation Scenarios

EPA Grant Number: R835873C005
Subproject: this is subproject number 005 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R835873
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions
Center Director: Robinson, Allen
Title: Health Effects of Air Pollution and Mitigation Scenarios
Investigators: Burnett, Richard T , Pope, Clive Arden , Ezzati, Majid , Brauer, Michael
Institution: Health Canada - Ottawa , University of British Columbia , Imperial College , Brigham Young University
Current Institution: Health Canada - Ottawa , Brigham Young University , Imperial College , University of British Columbia
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
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


(1) estimate multi-pollutant mortality risk surfaces using two large, unique, population-based US datasets (1986-2004 National Health Interview Surveys linked to mortality to 2011, and 1982-2011 county level mortality data) and (2) explore regional and temporal variability in those risk surfaces. Historically, a few large studies (e.g., ACS; Harvard 6-Cities) have had dramatic impacts on U.S. air pollution policy; we believe that the study proposed here will have similarly large impacts: changing and supporting future air, climate, and energy policy, including national and regional risk analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and regulatory accountability analysis. Health – especially mortality reduction (increased life expectancy) – is a large motivator for air, climate, and energy policy; however, the specific relationships between mortality (life expectancy) and several ambient air pollutants, either singly or jointly, have not been sufficiently characterized to be useful in burden assessments, especially in nationally representative studies. Little is known about how the association between air pollution and health varies regionally in the U.S.


Core analyses will employ relative and additive risk survival models. We will test for non-linear associations between air pollution and longevity using Shape Constraint Additive Models. We will employ novel, high-resolution exposure metrics developed in Project 3. We will test the marginal effect of a single pollutant (controlling for other pollutants) and for non-linear interaction among pollutants. All analyses will control for known risk factors (e.g., smoking, obesity, education) and will consider age-sex specific models. We will study all non-accidental causes of death and some specific causes such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, diabetes, and lung cancer. Using county mortality data, we will model trends over time and space for both mortality rates and air pollution risks thus allowing a prediction of the spacetime change in risk associated with the space-time change in ambient concentrations.

Expected Results:

The main output will be a set of potentially non-linear concentration-mortality functions for multiple pollutants (NO2, CO, O3, PM2.5, sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, black carbon, organic carbon, and source-apportioned PM2.5) singly and in combination. Risk functions will be combined with exposure models, obtained from Projects 1, 2, and 3, to estimate the number of excess deaths and years of life lost associated with current exposure to multiple pollutants simultaneously, and how risk has changed across time and space. Risk functions will be used in Project 4 to predict future burdens associated with specific air, climate, and energy scenarios. These burden estimates will help guide the development of cost-effective region-specific multi-pollutant air, climate, and energy strategies that maximize improvements in population health.

Supplemental Keywords:

mortality risk functions, multi-pollutant, population health burden;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R835873    Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R835873C001 Mechanistic Air Quality Impact Models for Assessment of Multiple Pollutants at High Spatial Resolution
    R835873C002 Air Quality Observatory
    R835873C003 Next Generation LUR Models: Development of Nationwide Modeling Tools for Exposure Assessment and Epidemiology
    R835873C004 Air Pollutant Control Strategies in a Changing World
    R835873C005 Health Effects of Air Pollution and Mitigation Scenarios