Influence of exposure differences on city-to-city heterogeneity in PM2.5-mortality associations in US cities
Baxter, L., J. Crooks, AND J. Sacks. Influence of exposure differences on city-to-city heterogeneity in PM2.5-mortality associations in US cities. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. Academic Press Incorporated, Orlando, FL, 16(1):1-8, (2017).
Exposure factors that differ between communities could be significant effect modifiers of the PM2.5-mortality association and may explain some of the heterogeneity across cities. Previous studies has provided initial information on the importance of accounting for these factors that may influence individual exposure, but the overall air pollution exposures people encounter are dictated by a variety of factors, not just one at a time. The objective of this analysis is to evaluate whether previously developed city cluster based on various exposure factors can explain city-to-city heterogeneity in PM2.5 mortality risk estimates. National standards may not protect everyone equally, with some populations affected more than others. Determining a group of factors that can cause increases in adverse PM2.5 -health effects may help decision-makers identify at-risk populations and develop actions that can reduce risk.
Multi-city population-based epidemiological studies have observed heterogeneity between city-specific fine particulate matter (PM2.5)-mortality effect estimates. These studies typically use ambient monitoring data as a surrogate for exposure leading to potential exposure misclassification. The level of exposure misclassification can differ by city affecting the observed health effect estimate. The objective of this analysis is to evaluate whether previously developed residential infiltration-based city clusters can explain city-to-city heterogeneity in PM2.5 mortality risk estimates. In a prior paper 94 cities were clustered based on residential infiltration factors (e.g. home age/size, prevalence of air conditioning (AC)), resulting in 5 clusters. For this analysis, the association between PM2.5 and all-cause mortality was first determined in 77 cities across the United States for 2001–2005. Next, a second stage analysis was conducted evaluating the influence of cluster assignment on heterogeneity in the risk estimates. Associations between a 2-day (lag 0–1 days) moving average of PM2.5 concentrations and non-accidental mortality were determined for each city. Estimated effects ranged from −3.2 to 5.1% with a pooled estimate of 0.33% (95% CI: 0.13, 0.53) increase in mortality per 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5. The second stage analysis determined that cluster assignment was marginally significant in explaining the city-to-city heterogeneity. The health effects estimates in cities with older, smaller homes with less AC (Cluster 1) and cities with newer, smaller homes with a large prevalence of AC (Cluster 3) were significantly lower than the cluster consisting of cities with older, larger homes with a small percentage of AC. This is the first study that attempted to examine whether multiple exposure factors could explain the heterogeneity in PM2.5-mortality associations. The results of this study were found to explain a small portion (6%) of this heterogeneity.
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Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY
RESEARCH PLANNING AND COORDINATION STAFF