National maps of the effects of particulate matter on mortality: exploring geographical variation.

Francesca Dominici, Aidan McDermott, Scott L. Zeger, Jonathan M. Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present national maps of relative rates of mortality associated with short-term exposure to particulate matter < 10 micro m in aerodynamic diameter (PM(10)). We report results for 88 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States from 1987 to 1994 for all-cause mortality, combined cardiovascular and respiratory deaths, and other causes of mortality. Maximum likelihood estimates of the relative rate of mortality associated with PM(10)and the degree of statistical uncertainty were obtained for each of the 88 cities by fitting a separate log-linear regression of the daily mortality rate on air pollution level and potential confounders. We obtained Bayesian estimates of the relative rates by fitting a hierarchical model that takes into account spatial correlation among the true city-specific relative rates. We found that daily variations of PM(10) are positively associated with daily variations of mortality. In particular, the relative rate estimates of cardiovascular and respiratory mortality associated with PM(10) are larger on average than the relative rate estimates of all-cause and other-cause mortality. The estimated increase in the relative rate of death from cardiovascular and respiratory mortality, all-cause mortality, and other-cause mortality were 0.31% (95% posterior interval, 0.15-0.5), 0.22% (95% posterior interval, 0.1-0.38), and 0.13% (95% posterior interval, -0.05 to 0.29), respectively. Bayesian estimates of the city-specific relative rates ranged from 0.23% to 0.35% for cardiovascular and respiratory mortality, from 0.18% to 0.27% for all causes, and from 0.10% to 0.20% for other causes of mortality. The spatial characterization of effects across cities offers the potential to identify factors that could influence the effect of PM(10) on health, including particle characteristics, offering insights into mechanisms by which PM(10) causes adverse health effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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