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J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 1999 Sep-Oct;9(5):502-12.

Temporal variability of microenvironmental time budgets in Maryland.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Science, University of Georgia, Athens, USA.


Information on human time-activity patterns is often required to interpret environmental exposure data fully and to implement exposure assessment models. Data on short-term time-activity patterns for individuals, such as 1-day measurements, are relatively abundant. The reliability of such data for use in chronic exposure (e.g., 1 or more years) assessments performed for evaluation of health risks is not well understood. As part of the NHEXAS-Maryland investigation, daily time budget data for seven microenvironments were collected from 80 people during as many as six 1-week Cycles over a 12-month period. The data were summarized and analyzed statistically by sampling Cycle, day of week, and individual to characterize long-term average microenvironmental time budgets and to identify their determinants. Median times spent in transit, indoors at home, outside at home, indoors at work or school, outdoors at work or school, indoors at other locations, and outdoors at other locations were found to vary significantly, although not substantively in many cases, by time of year (i.e., Cycle), by day of week, and by individuals. Time budgets for most of the microenvironments also exhibited significant variability by gender, age group, education level, annual household income, and work status. The results indicate that short-term (e.g., 1-day) measures of microenvironmental time budgets for individuals are unlikely to be representative of their long-term patterns. Thus, health risk or epidemiological assessments performed for a population mean or specific quantile may be relatively insensitive to when time budget data were collected. However, the accuracy of such assessments performed for individuals is likely to be greatly improved by collection of time budget data from numerous points in time.

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