Science Inventory

Investigating the American Time Use Survey from an Exposure Modeling Perspective


GEORGE, B. J. AND T. R. MCCURDY. Investigating the American Time Use Survey from an Exposure Modeling Perspective. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology . Nature Publishing Group, London, Uk, 21(1):92-105, (2011).


The National Exposure Research Laboratory′s (NERL) Human Exposure and Atmospheric Sciences Division (HEASD) conducts research in support of EPA′s mission to protect human health and the environment. HEASD′s research program supports Goal 1 (Clean Air) and Goal 4 (Healthy People) of EPA′s strategic plan. More specifically, our division conducts research to characterize the movement of pollutants from the source to contact with humans. Our multidisciplinary research program produces Methods, Measurements, and Models to identify relationships between and characterize processes that link source emissions, environmental concentrations, human exposures, and target-tissue dose. The impact of these tools is improved regulatory programs and policies for EPA.


This paper describes an evaluation of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey (ATUS) for potential use in modeling human exposures to environmental pollutants. The ATUS is a large, on-going, cross-sectional survey of where Americans spend time and what activities they undertake in those locations. The data are reported as a series of sequential activities over a 24-h time period - a "diary day" - starting at 0400 hours. Between 12,000 and 13,000 surveys are obtained each year and the Bureau has plans to continue ATUS for the foreseeable future. The ATUS already has about 73,000 diary days of data, more than twice as many as that which currently exists in the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Consolidated Human Activity Database" (CHAD) that the Agency uses for exposure modeling purposes. There are limitations for using ATUS in modeling human exposures to environmental pollutants. The ATUS does not report the location for a number of activities regarded as "personal." For 2006, personal activities with missing location information totaled 572 min/day, on average, for survey participants: about 40% of their day. Another limitation is that ATUS does not distinguish between indoor and outdoor activities at home, two of the traditional locational demarcations used in human exposure modeling. This lack of information affects exposure estimates to both indoor and outdoor air pollutants and potentially affects non-dietary ingestion estimates for children, which can vary widely depending on whether or not a child is indoors. Finally, a detailed analysis of the work travel activity in a subsample from ATUS 2006 indicates that the coding scheme is not fully consistent with a CHAD-based exposure modeling approach. For ATUS respondents in this subsample who reported work as an activity, roughly 48% of their days were missing work travel at one or both ends of the work shift or reported within work-shift travel inconsistently. An extensive effort would be needed to recode work travel data from ATUS for EPA's exposure modeling purposes.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 01/01/2011
Record Last Revised: 02/04/2011
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 209599