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Indoor Exposure to “Outdoor PM10”: Assessing Its Influence on the Relationship Between PM10 and Short-term Mortality in U.S. Cities

Chen, Chuna; Zhao, Bina; Weschler, Charles J.a,b,c

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31826b800e
Air Pollution

Background: Seasonal and regional differences have been reported for the increase in short-term mortality associated with a given increase in the concentration of outdoor particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 10 μm (PM10 mortality coefficient). Some of this difference may be because of seasonal and regional differences in indoor exposure to PM10 of outdoor origin.

Methods: From a previous study, we obtained PM10 mortality coefficients for each season in seven U.S. regions. We then estimated the change in the sum of indoor and outdoor PM10 exposure per unit change in outdoor PM10 exposure (PM10 exposure coefficient) for each season in each region. This was originally accomplished by estimating PM10 exposure coefficients for 19 cities within the regions for which we had modeled building infiltration rates. We subsequently expanded the analysis to include 64 additional cities with less well-characterized building infiltration rates.

Results: The correlation (r = 0.71 [95% confidence interval = 0.46 to 0.86]) between PM10 mortality coefficients and PM10 exposure coefficients (28 data pairs; four seasons in each of seven regions) was strong using exposure coefficients derived from the originally targeted 19 National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollutions Study cities within the regions. The correlation remained strong (r = 0.67 [0.40 to 0.84]) when PM10 exposure coefficients were derived using 83 cities within the regions (the original 19 plus the additional 64).

Conclusions: Seasonal and regional differences in PM10 mortality coefficients appear to partially reflect seasonal and regional differences in total PM10 exposure per unit change in outdoor exposure.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

From the aDepartment of Building Science, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China; bEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ; and cInternational Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark.

Submitted 29 January 2012; accepted 8 May 2012.

Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51078216) and the Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program.

Supplemental digital content is available through direct URL citations in the HTML and PDF versions of this article ( This content is not peer-reviewed or copy-edited; it is the sole responsibility of the author.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Correspondence: Bin Zhao, Department of Building Science, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.