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Risk Anal. 2017 Dec;37(12):2420-2434. doi: 10.1111/risa.12775. Epub 2017 Feb 28.

Finely Resolved On-Road PM2.5 and Estimated Premature Mortality in Central North Carolina.

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Institute for the Environment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.


To quantify the on-road PM2.5 -related premature mortality at a national scale, previous approaches to estimate concentrations at a 12-km × 12-km or larger grid cell resolution may not fully characterize concentration hotspots that occur near roadways and thus the areas of highest risk. Spatially resolved concentration estimates from on-road emissions to capture these hotspots may improve characterization of the associated risk, but are rarely used for estimating premature mortality. In this study, we compared the on-road PM2.5 -related premature mortality in central North Carolina with two different concentration estimation approaches-(i) using the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model to model concentration at a coarser resolution of a 36-km × 36-km grid resolution, and (ii) using a hybrid of a Gaussian dispersion model, CMAQ, and a space-time interpolation technique to provide annual average PM2.5 concentrations at a Census-block level (∼105,000 Census blocks). The hybrid modeling approach estimated 24% more on-road PM2.5 -related premature mortality than CMAQ. The major difference is from the primary on-road PM2.5 where the hybrid approach estimated 2.5 times more primary on-road PM2.5 -related premature mortality than CMAQ due to predicted exposure hotspots near roadways that coincide with high population areas. The results show that 72% of primary on-road PM2.5 premature mortality occurs within 1,000 m from roadways where 50% of the total population resides, highlighting the importance to characterize near-road primary PM2.5 and suggesting that previous studies may have underestimated premature mortality due to PM2.5 from traffic-related emissions.


Air pollution; PM2.5; R-LINE; fine-resolution modeling; traffic-related mortality

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