Final Report: PM Components and NYC Respiratory and Cardiovascular Morbidity

EPA Grant Number: R827351C014
Subproject: this is subproject number 014 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827351
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: EPA NYU PM Center: Health Risks of PM Components
Center Director: N/A
Title: PM Components and NYC Respiratory and Cardiovascular Morbidity
Investigators: Ito, Kazuhiko
Institution: New York University School of Medicine
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 took advantage of the continuous PM10 and PM2.5 data as well as the newly available PM2.5 chemical speciation data collected in New York City (NYC). The project aimed to identify key PM components and source types that are associated with respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity, and to provide excess risk estimates for sub-populations that are characterized by age group, diagnoses, and sub-areas within NYC.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Daily coarse particle concentrations were estimated by subtracting PM2.5 from PM10 at five monitoring sites where both size fractions were measured using continuous monitors within NYC. Daily average values across the sites were tested for their associations with asthma emergency department (ED) visits from the 11 municipal hospitals for the years 1999-2002. The data were analyzed for the full-year period (excluding September and October to avoid the influence of the fall peaks in asthma ED visits), as well as for warm (April-August) and cold (November-March) season subsets. A total of 167,900 asthma ED visits were analyzed for the four-year period. A Poisson Generalized Linear Model (GLM) was used to estimate the impact of the average of 0- and 1-day lags of PM2.5 and PM10-2.5 on the asthma ED visits, adjusting for weather effects, temporal trends, and day-of-week. Both PM2.5 (RR = 1.11; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.18, per 5th-to-95th percentile increment) and PM10-2.5 (RR = 1.12; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.18) were associated with asthma ED visits in the full-year data. In the warm season, the risk estimate for PM10-2.5 (RR = 1.25; 95% CI: 1.15, 1.36) was somewhat higher than that for PM2.5 (RR = 1.15; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.27). In the cold season, PM10-2.5 was not associated with asthma ED visits and PM2.5 was only weakly associated. We concluded that coarse summertime particles may be an important component of PM that exacerbates asthma in NYC.

We also conducted regression analysis using the source-apportioned PM2.5 database that we constructed in Ito, et al. (2004). As described in Ito, et al. (2004), four major source types were identified using both methods: secondary sulfate, traffic-related particles, residual oil combustion/incineration effluents, and re-suspended soil. For each set, we averaged the source-apportioned PM2.5 across the three monitors. The same Poisson GLM model described above was employed, except that 0- and 1-day lagged PM component variables were examined separately because of the every-3rd-day sampling frequency. Unfortunately, because of this sampling frequency, the total available number of days (< 180 days) for the study period did not provide sufficient statistical power for the expected magnitude of risk estimates. Most of the source-apportioned PM2.5’s risk estimates were positive, but none were statistically significant. Generally, the risk estimates were larger for warm season than for year-round or cold season. For example, the relative risks per 5th-to-95th percentile of source-apportioned PM2.5 at lag 0 day using the APCA set were: 1.15 (95% CI: 0.83, 1.59); 1.03 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.22); 1.02 (95% CI: 0.92, 1.14); and, 1.00 (95% CI: 0.94, 1.067) for residual oil combustion/incineration, secondary sulfate, soil, and traffic, respectively.

Gaseous criteria pollutants were also analyzed using the same regression models. In the warm season, O3 (RR=1.13; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.23]), NO2 (RR=1.17; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.25), and CO (RR=1.12; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.22) were each associated with asthma ED visits, and O3 and NO2 associations appeared to be independent of PM2.5. In the cold season, gaseous pollutants’ associations with asthma ED visits were generally weaker.


We found that both PM2.5 and PM10-2.5 were associated with asthma ED visits in this data set. PM10-2.5 in warm season may be an important component that exacerbates asthma in NYC. NO2 and O3 also appear to independently contribute to excess asthma ED visits in warm months. An examination of specific PM chemical component(s) responsible for the observed associations requires a larger sample size (more days).

Two manuscripts are being prepared from the results of this project.


Ito K, Xue N, Thurston GD. Spatial variation of PM2.5 chemical species and source-apportioned mass concentrations in New York City. Atmospheric Environment 2004;38:5269-5282.

Technical Report:

Long Version of Final Report (PDF) (3 pp, 29.5 K, About PDF)

Supplemental Keywords:

particulate matter, exposure, measurement error, mortality, morbidity, source-apportionment,, RFA, Health, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, Scientific Discipline, Air, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, particulate matter, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Risk Assessments, Physical Processes, Environmental Monitoring, Atmospheric Sciences, Risk Assessment, ambient air quality, atmospheric particulate matter, particulates, air toxics, atmospheric particles, chemical characteristics, toxicology, ambient air monitoring, acute lung injury, PM 2.5, long term exposure, morbidity, airborne particulate matter, environmental risks, exposure, epidemelogy, air pollution, aerosol composition, atmospheric aerosol particles, human exposure, PM, exposure assessment, human health risk

Relevant Websites:

Long Version of Final Report (PDF) (3 pp, 29.5 K, About PDF) Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 1999
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R827351    EPA NYU PM Center: Health Risks of PM Components

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R827351C001 Exposure Characterization Error
    R827351C002 X-ray CT-based Assessment of Variations in Human Airway Geometry: Implications for Evaluation of Particle Deposition and Dose to Different Populations
    R827351C003 Asthma Susceptibility to PM2.5
    R827351C004 Health Effects of Ambient Air PM in Controlled Human Exposures
    R827351C005 Physicochemical Parameters of Combustion Generated Atmospheres as Determinants of PM Toxicity
    R827351C006 Effects of Particle-Associated Irritants on the Cardiovascular System
    R827351C007 Role of PM-Associated Transition Metals in Exacerbating Infectious Pneumoniae in Exposed Rats
    R827351C008 Immunomodulation by PM: Role of Metal Composition and Pulmonary Phagocyte Iron Status
    R827351C009 Health Risks of Particulate Matter Components: Center Service Core
    R827351C010 Lung Hypoxia as Potential Mechanisms for PM-Induced Health Effects
    R827351C011 Urban PM2.5 Surface Chemistry and Interactions with Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid (BALF)
    R827351C012 Subchronic PM2.5 Exposure Study at the NYU PM Center
    R827351C013 Long Term Health Effects of Concentrated Ambient PM2.5
    R827351C014 PM Components and NYC Respiratory and Cardiovascular Morbidity
    R827351C015 Development of a Real-Time Monitoring System for Acidity and Soluble Components in Airborne Particulate Matter
    R827351C016 Automated Real-Time Ambient Fine PM Monitoring System