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Current Approaches Used in Epidemiologic Studies to Examine Short-Term Multipollutant Air Pollution Exposures


Davalos, Angel D.; Luben, Thomas J.; Herring, Amy H.; & Sacks, Jason D. (2017). Current Approaches Used in Epidemiologic Studies to Examine Short-Term Multipollutant Air Pollution Exposures. Annals of Epidemiology, 27(2), 145-53.e1. PMCID: PMC5313327


PURPOSE: Air pollution epidemiology traditionally focuses on the relationship between individual air pollutants and health outcomes (e.g., mortality). To account for potential copollutant confounding, individual pollutant associations are often estimated by adjusting or controlling for other pollutants in the mixture. Recently, the need to characterize the relationship between health outcomes and the larger multipollutant mixture has been emphasized in an attempt to better protect public health and inform more sustainable air quality management decisions.
METHODS: New and innovative statistical methods to examine multipollutant exposures were identified through a broad literature search, with a specific focus on those statistical approaches currently used in epidemiologic studies of short-term exposures to criteria air pollutants (i.e., particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone).
RESULTS: Five broad classes of statistical approaches were identified for examining associations between short-term multipollutant exposures and health outcomes, specifically additive main effects, effect measure modification, unsupervised dimension reduction, supervised dimension reduction, and nonparametric methods. These approaches are characterized including advantages and limitations in different epidemiologic scenarios.
DISCUSSION: By highlighting the characteristics of various studies in which multipollutant statistical methods have been used, this review provides epidemiologists and biostatisticians with a resource to aid in the selection of the most optimal statistical method to use when examining multipollutant exposures.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Annals of Epidemiology


Davalos, Angel D.
Luben, Thomas J.
Herring, Amy H.
Sacks, Jason D.