To assess the relation between ambient, indoor, and personal levels of PM2.5 and its elemental composition for elderly subjects with cardiovascular disease.
In the framework of a European Union funded study, panel studies were conducted in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Helsinki, Finland. Outdoor PM2.5 concentrations were measured at a fixed site. Each subject's indoor and personal PM2.5 exposure was measured biweekly for six months, during the 24 hour period preceding intensive health measurements. The absorbance of PM2.5 filters was measured as a marker for diesel exhaust. The elemental content of more than 50% of the personal and indoor samples and all corresponding outdoor samples was measured using energy dispersive x ray fluorescence.
For Amsterdam and Helsinki respectively, a total of 225 and 238 personal, and 220 and 233 indoor measurements, were analysed from 36 and 46 subjects. For most elements, personal and indoor concentrations were lower than and highly correlated with outdoor concentrations. The highest correlations (median r>0.9) were found for sulfur and particle absorbance, which both represent fine mode particles from outdoor origin. Low correlations were observed for elements that represent the coarser part of the PM2.5 particles (Ca, Cu, Si, Cl).
The findings of this study provide support for using fixed site measurements as a measure of exposure to particulate matter in time series studies linking the day to day variation in particulate matter to the day to day variation in health endpoints, especially for components of particulate matter that are generally associated with fine particles and have few indoor sources. The high correlation for absorbance of PM2.5 documents that this applies to particulate matter from combustion sources, such as diesel vehicles, as well.
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A hazardous-waste-treatment plant that housed an incinerator began operation in 1984, before which a baseline survey of the surrounding population and environment was conducted; 10 y later, investigators studied the same subjects. Researchers focused on mercury exposure because mercury concentrations were present in the stack emissions, and environmental monitoring revealed mercury concentrations near the plant. In 1984 and 1994 the median hair mercury concentrations were 0.5 mg/kg and 0.8 mg/kg, respectively. During the 10-y period, median hair total mercury concentrations increased by 0.35 mg/kg in workers (n = 11); by 0.16 mg/kg, 0.13 mg/kg, and 0.03 mg/kg in individuals who lived 2 km (n = 45), 2-4 km (n = 38), and 5 km (n = 30) from the plant, respectively; and by 0.02 mg/kg in the reference group (n = 55). In summary, mercury exposure increased as distance from the plant decreased; however, the increase in exposure was minimal and, on the basis of current knowledge, did not pose a health risk.
The association between exposure to ambient air nitrogen dioxide and cough was evaluated in a panel study among 162 children aged 3-6 y. The weekly average nitrogen dioxide exposure was assessed with Palmes-tube measurements in three ways: (1) personally, (2) outside day-care centers, and (3) inside day-care centers. Ambient air nitrogen dioxide concentrations were obtained from the local network that monitored air quality. The parents recorded cough episodes daily in a diary. The risk of cough increased significantly (relative risk = 3.63; 95% confidence interval = 1.41, 9.30) in the highest personal nitrogen dioxide exposure category in winter, and a nonsignificant positive trend was noted for the other assessment groups. In spring, risk increased nonsignificantly in all exposure-assessment groups, except for the fixed-site monitoring assessment. It is important that investigators select an exposure-assessment method sufficiently accurate to reflect the effective pollutant dose in subjects.
One hundred seventy-two preschool children, aged three to six years, who attended municipal day-care centers in central and suburban areas of Helsinki, were followed up for seven weeks during the winter season and for eight weeks during the spring season in 1991. For each child, the weekly average NO2 exposure was estimated using passive samplers attached to the outer garments of the children during their everyday activities. Respiratory symptoms were recorded in daily diaries by the parents. The median of personally measured seasonal NO2 exposures was 21 micrograms/m3 (range 11-45.8 micrograms/m3). The seasonal median NO2 exposure was significantly larger (p