PM source apportionment and health effects. 3. Investigation of inter-method variations in associations between estimated source contributions of PM2.5 and daily mortality in Phoenix, AZ


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Abstract

As part of an EPA-sponsored workshop to investigate the use of source apportionment in health effects analyses, the associations between the participant's estimated source contributions of PM2.5 for Phoenix, AZ for the period from 1995-1997 and cardiovascular and total nonaccidental mortality were analyzed using Poisson generalized linear models (GLM). The base model controlled for extreme temperatures, relative humidity, day of week, and time trends using natural spline smoothers. The same mortality model was applied to all of the apportionment results to provide a consistent comparison across source components and investigators/methods. Of the apportioned anthropogenic PM2.5 source categories, secondary sulfate, traffic, and copper smelter-derived particles were most consistently associated with cardiovascular mortality. The sources with the largest cardiovascular mortality effect size were secondary sulfate (median estimate = 16.0% per 5th-to-95th percentile increment at lag 0 day among eight investigators/methods) and traffic (median estimate = 13.2% per 5th-to-95th percentile increment at lag 1 day among nine investigators/methods). For total mortality, the associations were weaker. Sea salt was also found to be associated with both total and cardiovascular mortality, but at 5 days lag. Fine particle soil and biomass burning factors were not associated with increased risks. Variations in the maximum effect lag varied by source category suggesting that past analyses considering only single lags of PM2.5 may have underestimated health impact contributions at different lags. Further research is needed on the possibility that different PM2.5 source components may have different effect lag structure. There was considerable consistency in the health effects results across source apportionments in their effect estimates and their lag structures. Variations in results across investigators/methods were small compared to the variations across source categories. These results indicate reproducibility of source apportionment results across investigative groups and support applicability of these methods to effects studies. However, future research will also need to investigate a number of other important issues including accuracy of results.

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