Interest has recently been focused on which populations are most at risk of premature mortality induced by air pollution. This coincides with greater concern about environmental justice. We analyzed total mortality in the four largest US cities with daily measurements of particulate matter less than 10 μm (PM10) and combined the results to determine whether race, sex, and education are potential modifiers of the effects of PM10 on mortality. We computed daily counts of deaths stratified by sex, race, and education in each city and investigated their associations with PM10 in a Poisson regression model. We combined the results by using inverse variance weighted averages. We found evidence of effect modification by sex, with the slope in female deaths one third larger than in male deaths, whereas for social factors and race we found only weak evidence of effect modification. In general, the effect modification appeared modest compared with other reports of substantial effect modification by medical conditions.
From the Environmental Epidemiology Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass.
Address correspondence to: Antonella Zanobetti, PhD, Environmental Epidemiology Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.