Sunday, May 08, 2005

More on Particles and Life

BrooklynDodger finds another paper about particulate pollution and overall mortality, this authored by a top research group from Johns Hopkins. This continues the Dodger’s quest to apply the community data in the occupational environment. Observed increases in overall mortality are in the range of 0.2% for each increase of 10 ug/M3. The variations observed were mostly within the 150 ug/m3 daily and 65 ug/M3 annual average limit for PM10.

The Dodger paraphrases the abstract as follows: The National Morbidity and Mortality Air Pollution Study includes data for 100 US cities, For the period 1987–2000, at the national level, a 10-µg/m3 increase in particulate matter less than 10 µm in aerodynamic diameter [PM10, roughly equivalent to the industrial hygienist’s Total Particulate] at a 1-day lag was associated with 0.15%, 0.14%, 0.36%, and 0.14% increases in mortality for winter, spring, summer, and fall, respectively. Analysis by geographic region found a strong seasonal pattern in the Northeast (with a peak in summer) and little seasonal variation in the southern regions of the country.

Is this 0.2% in total mortality a big number or a little number? Given 2,500,000 deaths per year [detail below], this fraction percent is 5000. The Dodger can’t figure out how to estimate deaths per year, but at least this gives a lives prolonged, per 10 ug/M3 reduction. The Dodger remembers that each death takes with it about 10 years of future life.

From NCHS:

(Data are for U.S. in 2002)

Number of deaths: 2,443,387
Death rate: 845.3 deaths per 100,000 population
Life expectancy: 77.3 years

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:
Heart disease: 696,947
Cancer: 557,271
Stroke: 162,672
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 124,816
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 106,742
Diabetes: 73,249
Influenza/Pneumonia: 65,681
Alzheimer's disease: 58,866
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 40,974
Septicemia: 33,865
Deaths: Final Data for 2002


American Journal of Epidemiology 2005 161(6):585-594;

Seasonal Analyses of Air Pollution and Mortality in 100 US Cities

Roger D. Peng1, Francesca Dominici1, Roberto Pastor-Barriuso2, Scott L. Zeger1 and Jonathan M. Samet3
1 Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD2 Epidemiology and Biostatistics Section, National Center for Epidemiology, Carlos III Institute of Health, Madrid, Spain3 Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Correspondence to Dr. Roger D. Peng, Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205 (e-mail:

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