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Particulate Matter Air Pollution
and
Health Risks
What is Particulate Matter?
Particulate matter (PM)
describes a wide variety of
airborne material. PM pollution
consists of materials (including
dust, smoke, and soot), that are
directly emitted into the air or
result from the transformation of
gaseous pollutants. Particles
come from natural sources (e.g.,
volcanic eruptions) and human
activities such as burning fossil
fuels, incinerating wastes, and
smelting metals.
Image from http://www.epa.gov/eogapti1/
module3/distribu/distribu.htm
How is PM Regulated?
PM is one of the six EPA “criteria pollutants” that have been
determined to be harmful to public health and the environment.
(The other five are ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide,
carbon monoxide, and lead.)
EPA is required under the Clean Air Act to set national
ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) to protect public
health from exposure to these pollutants. Areas that exceed the
NAAQS are designated as nonattainment, and must institute
air pollution control programs to reduce air pollution to levels
that meet the NAAQS.
PM
Where Does PM Originate?
VOCs
NO2
SO2
Sources may emit PM directly into the environment or emit precursors
such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and volatile
organic compounds (VOCs), which are transformed through
atmospheric chemistry to form PM.
Ammonia (NH3)
Ammonia (NH3)
Sources of PM and PM Precursors
Mobile Sources
(vehicles)
VOCs, NO2, PM
Stationary Sources
(power plants, factories)
NO2, SO2, PM
Area Sources
(drycleaners, gas stations)
VOCs
Natural Sources
(forest fires, volcanoes)
PM
Determinants of PM Concentration
• Weather patterns
• Wind
• Stability (vertical movement of air)
• Turbulence
• Precipitation
• Topography
• Smokestack height and temperature of gases
Nearby natural and built structures may lead to downward moving
currents causing aerodynamic or building downwash of
smokestack emissions.
The Role of Inversions
An inversion is an extremely
stable layer of the atmosphere
that forms over areas.
Temperature inversions trap
pollutants close to the ground.
These inversions involve layers
of hot air sitting above cooler air
near ground level. When
particles accumulate in the air
layer, they are unable to rise
into the atmosphere where
winds will disperse them.
Source: http://www.epa.gov/apti/ course422/
ce1.html
1930: Meuse River Valley, Belgium
• An inversion led to a high concentration of
pollutants during a period of cold, damp
weather
• Main sources: zinc smelter, sulfuric acid
factory, glass manufacturers
• 60 deaths recorded
1948: Donora, Pennsylvania
• Similar inversion to Meuse River Valley
• Main sources: iron and steel factories, zinc
smelting, and an acid plant
• 20 deaths observed
1952: London
• Killer fog (right)
• Primary source: domestic coal burning
• 4,500 excess deaths recorded during week-
long period in December
The Great London Smog
(1952)
Major Episodes of Severe Air Pollution
due to Inversions
Establishing a particle size
definition for irregularly shaped
particles necessitates the use of a
standardized measure referred to
as the aerodynamic diameter,
measured in microns or
micrometers (μm), a unit equal to
one millionth of a meter. The graph
at the right shows the distribution of
the 4 main particle size categories,
with the categories historically and
currently regulated by EPA
indicated below. By comparison, a
human hair is approximately 70
microns in diameter.
Top: Modified from Online Reference Module by JR
Richards et al. http://registrar.ies. ncsu.edu/ol_2000.
Bottom: U.S. EPA. Office of Research and Development.
Particulate Matter:
Aerodynamic Diameter
Size is important to the behavior
of PM in the atmosphere and
human body and determines the
entry and absorption potential
for particles in the lungs.
Particles larger than 10 µm are
trapped in the nose and throat
and never reach the lungs.
Therefore, particles 10 µm in
diameter or less are of most
concern for their effects on
human health. Particles
between 5 and 10 µm are
removed by physical processes
in the throat. Particles smaller
than 5 µm reach the bronchial
tubes, while particles 2.5 µm in
diameter or smaller are
breathed into the deepest
portions of the lungs.
Image: PM2.5. By D. Hershey. From New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation.
http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dar/baqs/micro
/two.html
Particulate Matter:
Size Matters
• Premature death
• Lung cancer
• Exacerbation of COPD
• Development of chronic lung disease
• Heart attacks
• Hospital admissions and ER visits for heart and lung
disease
• Respiratory symptoms and medication use in people with
chronic lung disease and asthma
• Decreased lung function
• Pre-term birth
• Low birth weight
What Adverse Health Effects
Have Been Linked to PM?
Increasing Evidence of
Cardiovascular Effects
Until the mid 1990s, most
research focused on the
association of PM exposure with
respiratory disease. Since then,
there has been growing evidence
of cardiovascular health effects
from PM.
Source: Pope and Dockery, JAWMA, 2006
Toxicological, clinical and
epidemiological studies have
increased understanding of the
mechanism of action by which
PM leads to mortality and lung and
heart disease.
For example, at right are stained
photomicrographs of abdominal
arteries from mice exposed to
filtered air and air polluted with fine
particulate matter, with the
increased arterial blockage in the
PM-exposed mice providing
scientific support for the link
between PM and atherosclerosis
found in a study of human subjects
(Kunzli et al., 2005). Sun et al. JAMA, 2005
Integrating Toxicology, Epidemiology
and Clinical Studies
Several theories have been advanced as to the mechanism of
action. It is likely that more than one mechanism is involved in
causing PM-related health effects. Theories include the following:
4. PM causes inflammation
of lung tissue, resulting in
the release of chemicals
that impact heart function;
5. PM causes changes in
blood chemistry that
results in clots that can
cause heart attacks.
1. PM leads to lung irritation
which leads to increase
permeability in lung tissue;
2. PM increases susceptibility to
viral and bacterial pathogens
leading to pneumonia in
vulnerable persons who are
unable to clear these
infections;
3. PM aggravates the severity
of chronic lung diseases
causing rapid loss of airway
function;
How Does PM Cause Health Effects?
Types of Air Pollution and Health
Studies
• Ecologic study – Examines the association between exposure rates
and disease rates in a group over time. In ecologic studies, the
exposure and disease status of individuals in the group are unknown.
Therefore, one limitation of this study design is that those exposed and
those with the disease may not be the same individuals.
• Time-series study – Analyzes a series of data points that results from
repeated measurements over time. Adjustments are made for cyclical
or seasonal trends such as daily peaks in PM levels or annual influenza
trends in order to identify larger trends that demonstrate the association
between exposure and disease.
• Cohort study – The health status of individuals in a cohort (i.e., group
of study participants) whose exposure status is known at the start of the
study is monitored over time to see if there is an association between
their exposure and particular health outcomes.
Donora, PA at noon on Oct. 29, 1948. Photo source:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Evolution of Air Pollution
Research Methods - Early Studies
Early studies of air pollution
concentrated on the severe
episodes described earlier.
These episodes demonstrated a
clear link between increased
levels of ambient pollution and
adverse health outcomes.
Methods used to describe these
events included population
surveys, ecological studies,
and, later, time-series analyses.
The London Fog event of
1952 provides a clear
example of an early time-
series analysis. The figure
to the right shows the
estimates of weekly
mortality and average sulfur
dioxide concentrations for
London during the winter of
1952-53. Deaths in
December increased
approximately 2.5 times
over comparable periods in
1947 to 1951, and remained
elevated through February
1953. Source: http://www.portfolio.mvm.ed.ac.uk/
studentwebs/session4/27/greatsmog52.htm
The Evolution of Air Pollution
Research Methods - The London Fog
The modern era of air pollution
research involved using laboratory
sampling equipment and
epidemiologic methods to
determine personal exposures and
to monitor health effects. These
efforts were used in the Harvard
Six Cities Study, a prospective
study pioneered in 1973, in which
mortality data from a cohort of
adults in six cities with different
levels of air pollution were
analyzed, controlling for
behavioral risk factors such as
smoking. This study led to more
complex techniques for both
measuring exposure and modeling
the exposure-response
relationship between PM and
health endpoints.
Source: Dockery D, et al. An Association between
Air Pollution and Mortality in Six U.S. Cities,
NEJM
1993; 329 (24):1753-1759.
P=Portage, WI H=Harriman, TN
T=Topeka, KS L=St. Louis, MO
W=Watertown, MA
S=Steubenville, OH
The Evolution of Air Pollution
Research Methods - Modern Studies
More recent studies have
introduced sophisticated statistical
approaches to the time-series
relationship. The National
Morbidity, Mortality, and Air
Pollution Study (NMMAPS) has
made substantial contributions
towards understanding the
association of PM with mortality by
applying a consistent approach to
data collected at 90 different sites
across the nation.
The graph at the right shows the
relative rates of mortality per 10 μg
increase in PM10 levels for the 90
individual study sites.
The Evolution of Air Pollution
Research Methods - Multiple Sites
Source: Samet JM, Zeger SL, Dominici FD et al. 2000. The
National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study. Part
II: Morbidity and Mortality from Air Pollution in the United
States. Cambridge, MA: Health Effects Institute.
Air Pollution Research:
Setting the Future Agenda
The Committee on Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate
Matter was established by the National Research Council in
January 1998 in response to a request from Congress and the EPA.
The Committee produced 4 reports over the period 1998 – 2004.
I. Immediate Priorities
and a Long-Range
Research Portfolio
II. Evaluating Research
Progress and Updating
the Portfolio
III. Early Research
Progress
IV. Continuing Research
Progress
Research Priorities
The Committee identified ten research areas of priority in
establishing the relation between PM exposure and public health:
1. Outdoor measures vs. actual
human exposure
2. Exposures of susceptible
subpopulations to toxic PM
components
3. Characterization of emission
sources
4. Air-Quality-Model development
and testing
5. Assessment of hazardous
particulate matter components
6. Dosimetry: Deposition and
fate of particles in the
respiratory tract
7. Combined effects of PM and
gaseous co-pollutants
8. Susceptible subpopulations
9. Mechanisms of injury
10. Analysis and measurement
For More Information
Further information on particulate matter air pollution is
available at:
http://www.healtheffects.org/
http://www.epa.gov/oar/particlepollution/
http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pm/s_pm_index.html
http://www.epa.gov/air/oaqps/greenbk/pindex.html

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Particulate Matter Air Pollution Health Risks Explained

  • 1.
  • 2. Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Health Risks
  • 3. What is Particulate Matter? Particulate matter (PM) describes a wide variety of airborne material. PM pollution consists of materials (including dust, smoke, and soot), that are directly emitted into the air or result from the transformation of gaseous pollutants. Particles come from natural sources (e.g., volcanic eruptions) and human activities such as burning fossil fuels, incinerating wastes, and smelting metals. Image from http://www.epa.gov/eogapti1/ module3/distribu/distribu.htm
  • 4. How is PM Regulated? PM is one of the six EPA “criteria pollutants” that have been determined to be harmful to public health and the environment. (The other five are ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead.) EPA is required under the Clean Air Act to set national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) to protect public health from exposure to these pollutants. Areas that exceed the NAAQS are designated as nonattainment, and must institute air pollution control programs to reduce air pollution to levels that meet the NAAQS.
  • 5. PM Where Does PM Originate? VOCs NO2 SO2 Sources may emit PM directly into the environment or emit precursors such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are transformed through atmospheric chemistry to form PM. Ammonia (NH3) Ammonia (NH3)
  • 6. Sources of PM and PM Precursors Mobile Sources (vehicles) VOCs, NO2, PM Stationary Sources (power plants, factories) NO2, SO2, PM Area Sources (drycleaners, gas stations) VOCs Natural Sources (forest fires, volcanoes) PM
  • 7. Determinants of PM Concentration • Weather patterns • Wind • Stability (vertical movement of air) • Turbulence • Precipitation • Topography • Smokestack height and temperature of gases Nearby natural and built structures may lead to downward moving currents causing aerodynamic or building downwash of smokestack emissions.
  • 8. The Role of Inversions An inversion is an extremely stable layer of the atmosphere that forms over areas. Temperature inversions trap pollutants close to the ground. These inversions involve layers of hot air sitting above cooler air near ground level. When particles accumulate in the air layer, they are unable to rise into the atmosphere where winds will disperse them. Source: http://www.epa.gov/apti/ course422/ ce1.html
  • 9. 1930: Meuse River Valley, Belgium • An inversion led to a high concentration of pollutants during a period of cold, damp weather • Main sources: zinc smelter, sulfuric acid factory, glass manufacturers • 60 deaths recorded 1948: Donora, Pennsylvania • Similar inversion to Meuse River Valley • Main sources: iron and steel factories, zinc smelting, and an acid plant • 20 deaths observed 1952: London • Killer fog (right) • Primary source: domestic coal burning • 4,500 excess deaths recorded during week- long period in December The Great London Smog (1952) Major Episodes of Severe Air Pollution due to Inversions
  • 10. Establishing a particle size definition for irregularly shaped particles necessitates the use of a standardized measure referred to as the aerodynamic diameter, measured in microns or micrometers (μm), a unit equal to one millionth of a meter. The graph at the right shows the distribution of the 4 main particle size categories, with the categories historically and currently regulated by EPA indicated below. By comparison, a human hair is approximately 70 microns in diameter. Top: Modified from Online Reference Module by JR Richards et al. http://registrar.ies. ncsu.edu/ol_2000. Bottom: U.S. EPA. Office of Research and Development. Particulate Matter: Aerodynamic Diameter
  • 11. Size is important to the behavior of PM in the atmosphere and human body and determines the entry and absorption potential for particles in the lungs. Particles larger than 10 µm are trapped in the nose and throat and never reach the lungs. Therefore, particles 10 µm in diameter or less are of most concern for their effects on human health. Particles between 5 and 10 µm are removed by physical processes in the throat. Particles smaller than 5 µm reach the bronchial tubes, while particles 2.5 µm in diameter or smaller are breathed into the deepest portions of the lungs. Image: PM2.5. By D. Hershey. From New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dar/baqs/micro /two.html Particulate Matter: Size Matters
  • 12. • Premature death • Lung cancer • Exacerbation of COPD • Development of chronic lung disease • Heart attacks • Hospital admissions and ER visits for heart and lung disease • Respiratory symptoms and medication use in people with chronic lung disease and asthma • Decreased lung function • Pre-term birth • Low birth weight What Adverse Health Effects Have Been Linked to PM?
  • 13. Increasing Evidence of Cardiovascular Effects Until the mid 1990s, most research focused on the association of PM exposure with respiratory disease. Since then, there has been growing evidence of cardiovascular health effects from PM. Source: Pope and Dockery, JAWMA, 2006
  • 14. Toxicological, clinical and epidemiological studies have increased understanding of the mechanism of action by which PM leads to mortality and lung and heart disease. For example, at right are stained photomicrographs of abdominal arteries from mice exposed to filtered air and air polluted with fine particulate matter, with the increased arterial blockage in the PM-exposed mice providing scientific support for the link between PM and atherosclerosis found in a study of human subjects (Kunzli et al., 2005). Sun et al. JAMA, 2005 Integrating Toxicology, Epidemiology and Clinical Studies
  • 15. Several theories have been advanced as to the mechanism of action. It is likely that more than one mechanism is involved in causing PM-related health effects. Theories include the following: 4. PM causes inflammation of lung tissue, resulting in the release of chemicals that impact heart function; 5. PM causes changes in blood chemistry that results in clots that can cause heart attacks. 1. PM leads to lung irritation which leads to increase permeability in lung tissue; 2. PM increases susceptibility to viral and bacterial pathogens leading to pneumonia in vulnerable persons who are unable to clear these infections; 3. PM aggravates the severity of chronic lung diseases causing rapid loss of airway function; How Does PM Cause Health Effects?
  • 16. Types of Air Pollution and Health Studies • Ecologic study – Examines the association between exposure rates and disease rates in a group over time. In ecologic studies, the exposure and disease status of individuals in the group are unknown. Therefore, one limitation of this study design is that those exposed and those with the disease may not be the same individuals. • Time-series study – Analyzes a series of data points that results from repeated measurements over time. Adjustments are made for cyclical or seasonal trends such as daily peaks in PM levels or annual influenza trends in order to identify larger trends that demonstrate the association between exposure and disease. • Cohort study – The health status of individuals in a cohort (i.e., group of study participants) whose exposure status is known at the start of the study is monitored over time to see if there is an association between their exposure and particular health outcomes.
  • 17. Donora, PA at noon on Oct. 29, 1948. Photo source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The Evolution of Air Pollution Research Methods - Early Studies Early studies of air pollution concentrated on the severe episodes described earlier. These episodes demonstrated a clear link between increased levels of ambient pollution and adverse health outcomes. Methods used to describe these events included population surveys, ecological studies, and, later, time-series analyses.
  • 18. The London Fog event of 1952 provides a clear example of an early time- series analysis. The figure to the right shows the estimates of weekly mortality and average sulfur dioxide concentrations for London during the winter of 1952-53. Deaths in December increased approximately 2.5 times over comparable periods in 1947 to 1951, and remained elevated through February 1953. Source: http://www.portfolio.mvm.ed.ac.uk/ studentwebs/session4/27/greatsmog52.htm The Evolution of Air Pollution Research Methods - The London Fog
  • 19. The modern era of air pollution research involved using laboratory sampling equipment and epidemiologic methods to determine personal exposures and to monitor health effects. These efforts were used in the Harvard Six Cities Study, a prospective study pioneered in 1973, in which mortality data from a cohort of adults in six cities with different levels of air pollution were analyzed, controlling for behavioral risk factors such as smoking. This study led to more complex techniques for both measuring exposure and modeling the exposure-response relationship between PM and health endpoints. Source: Dockery D, et al. An Association between Air Pollution and Mortality in Six U.S. Cities, NEJM 1993; 329 (24):1753-1759. P=Portage, WI H=Harriman, TN T=Topeka, KS L=St. Louis, MO W=Watertown, MA S=Steubenville, OH The Evolution of Air Pollution Research Methods - Modern Studies
  • 20. More recent studies have introduced sophisticated statistical approaches to the time-series relationship. The National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study (NMMAPS) has made substantial contributions towards understanding the association of PM with mortality by applying a consistent approach to data collected at 90 different sites across the nation. The graph at the right shows the relative rates of mortality per 10 μg increase in PM10 levels for the 90 individual study sites. The Evolution of Air Pollution Research Methods - Multiple Sites Source: Samet JM, Zeger SL, Dominici FD et al. 2000. The National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study. Part II: Morbidity and Mortality from Air Pollution in the United States. Cambridge, MA: Health Effects Institute.
  • 21. Air Pollution Research: Setting the Future Agenda The Committee on Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter was established by the National Research Council in January 1998 in response to a request from Congress and the EPA. The Committee produced 4 reports over the period 1998 – 2004. I. Immediate Priorities and a Long-Range Research Portfolio II. Evaluating Research Progress and Updating the Portfolio III. Early Research Progress IV. Continuing Research Progress
  • 22. Research Priorities The Committee identified ten research areas of priority in establishing the relation between PM exposure and public health: 1. Outdoor measures vs. actual human exposure 2. Exposures of susceptible subpopulations to toxic PM components 3. Characterization of emission sources 4. Air-Quality-Model development and testing 5. Assessment of hazardous particulate matter components 6. Dosimetry: Deposition and fate of particles in the respiratory tract 7. Combined effects of PM and gaseous co-pollutants 8. Susceptible subpopulations 9. Mechanisms of injury 10. Analysis and measurement
  • 23. For More Information Further information on particulate matter air pollution is available at: http://www.healtheffects.org/ http://www.epa.gov/oar/particlepollution/ http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pm/s_pm_index.html http://www.epa.gov/air/oaqps/greenbk/pindex.html