The use of personal and indoor air pollution monitors in reproductive epidemiology studies

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2020 Sep;34(5):513-521. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12599. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

Abstract

Background: Personal and indoor air pollution monitors represent two ways to assess acute air pollution exposures; however, few reproductive epidemiology studies have incorporated these tools.

Objective: To provide an overview of the unique challenges and opportunities that arise when measuring acute exposure to air pollution in two ongoing reproductive epidemiology studies.

Methods: The Air Pollution, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and Reproductive Outcomes (AIR) Study recruits women undergoing IVF to wear a personal particulate matter (PM) air pollution monitor (AirBeam2©) for the 72-hour period following the start of controlled ovarian stimulation. The Reproductive Effects of Chemicals and Air Pollutants (RECAP) Study recruits men across the United States to place an air pollution monitor (emmET) in their home for 3 months, use a smartphone application, and provide a semen sample. We highlight the key issues identified in implementing exposure assessment for both studies.

Results: The main advantages of using the AirBeam2© personal monitor are as follows: (a) the low cost, (b) the ability to collect multiple size fractions of PM data every second, (c) the portability, (d) its capability to track GPS location, and (e) the ability for the participant to observe their real-time exposure information. The limited battery life, incompatibility with iOS-based smartphones, and frequent connection issues that arise between the AirBeam2© and smartphone are the main disadvantages. The main advantages of the emmET are the ability to measure multiple air pollutants at a high level of accuracy, collect data for a long period of time without burdening the participant, and ship monitors to participants around the country without the need for in-person set-up by trained technicians; however, the monitor only measures the indoor home environment.

Conclusions: Novel methods can be utilised to characterise short-term air pollution exposure in reproductive epidemiology studies and represent an exciting area for future research.

Keywords: air pollution; indoor monitors; personal monitors; reproductive epidemiology; study design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.