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Environmetrics. 2009 Mar 25;20(7):877-894.

A conditional expectation approach for associating ambient air pollutant exposures with health outcomes.

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Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Vectorborne and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University.


Our research focuses on the association between exposure to an airborne pollutant and counts of emergency department visits attributed to a specific chronic illness. The motivating example for this analysis of measurement error in time series studies of air pollution and acute health outcomes was a study of emergency department visits from a 20-county Atlanta metropolitan statistical area from 1993-1999. The research presented illustrates the impact of using various surrogates for unobserved measurements of ambient concentrations at the zip code level. Simulation results indicate that the impact of measurement error on the association between pollutant exposure and a health outcome can be substantial. The proposed conditional expectation approach provided reliable estimates of the association and exhibited good confidence interval coverage for a variety of magnitudes of association. Use of a single-centrally located monitor, the arithmetic average, the nearest-neighbor monitor, and the inverse-distance weighted average surrogates resulted in biased estimates and poor coverage rates, especially for larger magnitudes of the association. A focus on obtaining reasonable exposure measurements within clearly defined subregions is important when the pollutant exposure of interest exhibits strong spatial variability.

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