Determining the Effects of Particle Characteristics on Respiratory Health of Children

EPA Grant Number: R827353C007
Subproject: this is subproject number 007 , 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: Determining the Effects of Particle Characteristics on Respiratory Health of Children
Investigators: Dockery, Douglas W.
Current Investigators: Dockery, Douglas W. , Luttmann-Gibson, Heike
Institution: Harvard University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: June 1, 1999 through May 31, 2005 (Extended to May 31, 2006)
RFA: Airborne Particulate Matter (PM) Centers (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Particulate Matter , Air


This project is one of four projects under Theme II: Identifying Populations Susceptible to the Health Effects of Particulate Air Pollution of our proposal. As part of this project we will follow up the Six Cities Study cohort up to 24 years in an effort to assess the cumulative effect of long-term exposures on the incidence of lung cancer, nonmalignant respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and cause-specific mortality. Another objective of this project is to estimate the years lost associated with particulate exposure. This project was intended to address Particulate Matter Research Topics 2 and 5 identified by the National Research Council (NRC)—Biologically Important Constituents and Characteristics of Particulate Matter.

The main objective of this project is to examine the effects of particle composition on the respiratory health of children using particle samples collected as part of the Harvard Twenty-Four Cities Study. We previously reported that daily mortality in six U.S. cities was associated with PM2.5 but not with coarse particle mass. We now have used the elemental composition data for these same fine particles to estimate the association of source-specific fine particle mass with daily mortality (Laden et al, 2000). Using factor analysis, we estimated fine particle mass concentrations from soil and crustal material, motor vehicles, coal combustion, and up to two additional factors in each city. In a combined analysis across the six cities, a 10 µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 from mobile sources was associated with a 3.4 percent increase (95 percent CI 1.7 percent to 5.3 percent) in total daily mortality. An equivalent increase in coal combustion PM2.5 was associated with an increase of 1.1 percent (5 percent CI 0.2 percent to 2.0 percent). There was no increase in daily mortality associated with soil or crustal source fine particles.


The focus of Theme I is: to assess human exposures to particles and gases in order to better understand their health effects. As such, research conducted as part of Theme I has four main objectives: (1) to determine the contribution of particles of indoor and outdoor origin to personal and indoor levels, (2) to characterize the inter- and intra-variability in personal particulate and gaseous exposures for particles of indoor and outdoor origin, (3) to quantify the effect of measurement error for fine particles and their co-pollutants (coarse mass and the criteria gases) on risk estimates from epidemiological studies, and (4) to examine the association between various exposure measures and heart function for sensitive individuals. To accomplish these objectives, Theme I includes three projects, each of which is based on data from previous and ongoing exposure studies conducted in several U.S. cities (Boston, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Los Angeles). Project Ia will use data collected in these studies to characterize the contribution of indoor and outdoor particles to both personal exposures and indoor particulate concentrations. As part of this effort, the central tendency and variability in the contribution of outdoor and indoor particles to personal exposures and indoor concentrations will be characterized. Factors affecting this variability will also be determined, as will factors affecting the relationship between outdoor concentrations and personal exposures to outdoor and indoor particles. Project Ib will also use exposure data collected in these and other studies to characterize four sources of exposure error: instrument error, spatial variation in ambient PM2.5, indoor/outdoor concentration differences, and personal factors. Once characterized, the city- and population-specific effects of exposure error on risk estimates will be determined, and the impact of differential exposure error for PM2.5 and its co-pollutants (coarse mass and the criteria gases) on risk estimates will be quantified. Project Ic will leverage exposure measurements made in on-going projects to examine the association between heart function (heart rate and heart rate variability) and various exposure measures for sensitive, free-living individuals. This association will be examined using at least four exposure measures: (1) outdoor PM2.5 concentrations, (2) indoor source-related indoor PM2.5 concentrations, (3) outdoor source-related personal PM2.5 exposures, and (4) personal PM2.5 exposures

Supplemental Keywords:

particulate matter, PM2.5, PM10, air pollutants, particulates, health effects, exposure, ambient particles, susceptibility, metals, public policy, biology, engineering, epidemiology, toxicology, environmental chemistry, monitoring., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, particulate matter, Toxicology, air toxics, Environmental Chemistry, Epidemiology, State, Risk Assessments, Microbiology, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Monitoring, Children's Health, genetic susceptability, indoor air, Atmospheric Sciences, Molecular Biology/Genetics, Biology, particulates, health effects, ambient air quality, chemical exposure, interindividual variability, molecular epidemiology, risk assessment, sensitive populations, monitoring, cardiopulmonary responses, human health effects, ambient air monitoring, indoor exposure, health risks, air pollutants, exposure and effects, PM 2.5, Georgia (GA), ambient air, biological response, ambient measurement methods, pulmonary disease, developmental effects, epidemelogy, respiratory disease, exposure, lead, Massachusetts (MA), children, Human Health Risk Assessment, air pollution, particle exposure, biological mechanism , ambient monitoring, Maryland (MD), inhalation, pulmonary, assessment of exposure, susceptibility, particulate exposure, cardiopulmonary response, ambient particle health effects, human exposure, environmental health hazard, epidemeology, inhalation toxicology, human susceptibility, California (CA), indoor air quality, inhaled particles, cardiopulmonary, human health, air quality, respiratory, dosimetry, animal inhalation study, cardiovascular disease, genetic susceptibility, human health risk

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003
  • 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