Predicting residential indoor concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter, and elemental carbon using questionnaire and geographic information system based data

Atmos Environ (1994). 2007 Oct;41(31):6561-6571. doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2007.04.027.


Previous studies have identified associations between traffic-related air pollution and adverse health effects. Most have used measurements from a few central ambient monitors and/or some measure of traffic as indicators of exposure, disregarding spatial variability and/or factors influencing personal exposure-ambient concentration relationships. This study seeks to utilize publicly available data (i.e., central site monitors, geographic information system (GIS), and property assessment data) and questionnaire responses to predict residential indoor concentrations of traffic-related air pollutants for lower socioeconomic status (SES) urban households.As part of a prospective birth cohort study in urban Boston, we collected indoor and outdoor 3-4 day samples of nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) and fine particulate matter (PM(2.5)) in 43 low SES residences across multiple seasons from 2003 - 2005. Elemental carbon concentrations were determined via reflectance analysis. Multiple traffic indicators were derived using Massachusetts Highway Department data and traffic counts collected outside sampling homes. Home characteristics and occupant behaviors were collected via a standardized questionnaire. Additional housing information was collected through property tax records, and ambient concentrations were collected from a centrally-located ambient monitor.The contributions of ambient concentrations, local traffic and indoor sources to indoor concentrations were quantified with regression analyses. PM(2.5) was influenced less by local traffic but had significant indoor sources, while EC was associated with traffic and NO(2) with both traffic and indoor sources. Comparing models based on covariate selection using p-values or a Bayesian approach yielded similar results, with traffic density within a 50m buffer of a home and distance from a truck route as important contributors to indoor levels of NO(2) and EC, respectively. The Bayesian approach also highlighted the uncertanity in the models. We conclude that by utilizing public databases and focused questionnaire data we can identify important predictors of indoor concentrations for multiple air pollutants in a high-risk population.