Introduction: Recent cohort studies use exposure prediction models to estimate the association between long-term residential concentrations of PM2.5 and health. Because these prediction models rely on PM2.5 monitoring data, predictions for times before extensive spatial monitoring present a challenge to understanding long-term exposure effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Federal Reference Method (FRM) network for PM2.5 was established in 1999. We evaluated a novel statistical approach to produce high quality exposure predictions from 1980-2010 for epidemiological applications.

Methods: We developed spatio-temporal prediction models using geographic predictors and annual average PM2.5 data from 1999 through 2010 from the FRM and the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) networks. The model consists of a spatially-varying long-term mean, a spatially-varying temporal trend, and spatially-varying and temporally-independent spatio-temporal residuals structured using a universal kriging framework. Temporal trends in annual averages of PM2.5 before 1999 were estimated by using a) extrapolation based on PM2.5 data for 1999-2010 in FRM/IMPROVE, b) PM2.5 sulfate data for 1987-2010 in the Clean Air Status and Trends Network, and c) visibility data for 1980-2010 across the Weather-Bureau-Army-Navy network. We validated the resulting models using PM2.5 data collected before 1999 from IMPROVE, California Air Resources Board dichotomous sampler monitoring (CARB dichot), the Southern California Children’s Health Study (CHS), and the Inhalable Particulate Network (IPN).

Results: The PM2.5 prediction model performed well across three trend estimation approaches when validated using IMPROVE and CHS data (R2= 0.84–0.91). Model performance using CARB dichot and IPN data was worse than those in IMPROVE most likely due to inconsistent sampling methods and smaller numbers of monitoring sites.

Discussion: Our prediction modeling approach will allow health effects estimation associated with long-term exposures to PM2.5 over extended time periods of up to 30 years.


Statistical Models