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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2015 Mar-Apr;25(2):215-21. doi: 10.1038/jes.2014.55. Epub 2014 Aug 20.

Impact of ambient fine particulate matter carbon measurement methods on observed associations with acute cardiorespiratory morbidity.

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Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, USA.


Elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) represent a substantial portion of particulate matter <2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5), and have been associated with adverse health effects. EC and OC are commonly measured using the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) method or the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) method. Measurement method differences could have an impact on observed epidemiologic associations. Daily speciated PM2.5 data were obtained from the St Louis-Midwest Supersite, and St Louis emergency department (ED) visit data were obtained from the Missouri Hospital Association for the period June 2001 to April 2003. We assessed acute associations between cardiorespiratory ED visits and EC and OC from NIOSH and IMPROVE methods using Poisson generalized linear models controlling for temporal trends and meteorology. Associations were generally similar for EC and OC from the different measurement methods. The most notable difference between methods was observed for congestive heart failure and EC (for example, warm season rate ratios (95% confidence intervals) per interquartile range change in EC concentration were: NIOSH=1.06 (0.99-1.13), IMPROVE=1.01 (0.96-1.07)). Overall, carbon measurement method had little impact on acute associations between EC, OC, and ED visits. Some specific differences were observed, however, which may be related to particle composition.

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