Science Inventory

A simulation study to quantify the impacts of exposure measurement error on air pollution health risk estimates in copollutant time-series models.


Dionisio, K., H. Chang, AND L. Baxter. A simulation study to quantify the impacts of exposure measurement error on air pollution health risk estimates in copollutant time-series models. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. Academic Press Incorporated, Orlando, FL, 15:114, (2016).


The National Exposure Research Laboratory’s (NERL’s) 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.


BackgroundExposure measurement error in copollutant epidemiologic models has the potential to introduce bias in relative risk (RR) estimates. A simulation study was conducted using empirical data to quantify the impact of correlated measurement errors in time-series analyses of air pollution and health.MethodsZIP-code level estimates of exposure for six pollutants (CO, NOx, EC, PM2.5, SO4, O3) from 1999 to 2002 in the Atlanta metropolitan area were used to calculate spatial, population (i.e. ambient versus personal), and total exposure measurement error.Empirically determined covariance of pollutant concentration pairs and the associated measurement errors were used to simulate true exposure (exposure without error) from observed exposure. Daily emergency department visits for respiratory diseases were simulated using a Poisson time-series model with a main pollutant RR = 1.05 per interquartile range, and a null association for the copollutant (RR = 1). Monte Carlo experiments were used to evaluate the impacts of correlated exposure errors of different copollutant pairs.ResultsSubstantial attenuation of RRs due to exposure error was evident in nearly all copollutant pairs studied, ranging from 10 to 40% attenuation for spatial error, 3–85% for population error, and 31–85% for total error. When CO, NOx or EC is the main pollutant, we demonstrated the possibility of false positives, specifically identifying significant, positive associations for copollutants based on the estimated type I error rate.ConclusionsThe impact of exposure error must be considered when interpreting results of copollutant epidemiologic models, due to the possibility of attenuation of main pollutant RRs and the increased probability of false positives when measurement error is present.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/01/2016
Record Last Revised: 11/29/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 332550