Time series models relating short-term changes in air pollution levels to daily mortality counts typically assume that the effects of air pollution on the log relative rate of mortality do not vary with time. However, these short-term effects might plausibly vary by season. Changes in the sources of air pollution and meteorology can result in changes in characteristics of the air pollution mixture across seasons. The authors develop Bayesian semi-parametric hierarchical models for estimating time-varying effects of pollution on mortality in multi-site time series studies. The methods are applied to the updated National Morbidity and Mortality Air Pollution Study database for the period 1987--2000, which includes data for 100 U.S. cities. At the national level, a 10 micro-gram/m3 increase in PM(10) at lag 1 is associated with a 0.15 (95% posterior interval: -0.08, 0.39),0.14 (-0.14, 0.42), 0.36 (0.11, 0.61), and 0.14 (-0.06, 0.34) percent increase in mortality for winter, spring, summer, and fall, respectively. An analysis by geographical regions finds a strong seasonal pattern in the northeast (with a peak in summer) and little seasonal variation in the southern regions of the country. These results provide useful information for understanding particle toxicity and guiding future analyses of particle constituent data.


Epidemiology | Longitudinal Data Analysis and Time Series | Statistical Models