Acute health impacts of airborne particles estimated from satellite remote sensing

Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, United States. Electronic address: .
Environment international (Impact Factor: 5.56). 12/2012; 51C:150-159. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.10.011
Source: PubMed


Satellite-based remote sensing provides a unique opportunity to monitor air quality from space at global, continental, national and regional scales. Most current research focused on developing empirical models using ground measurements of the ambient particulate. However, the application of satellite-based exposure assessment in environmental health is still limited, especially for acute effects, because the development of satellite PM(2.5) model depends on the availability of ground measurements. We tested the hypothesis that MODIS AOD (aerosol optical depth) exposure estimates, obtained from NASA satellites, are directly associated with daily health outcomes. Three independent healthcare databases were used: unscheduled outpatient visits, hospital admissions, and mortality collected in Beijing metropolitan area, China during 2006. We use generalized linear models to compare the short-term effects of air pollution assessed by ground monitoring (PM(10)) with adjustment of absolute humidity (AH) and AH-calibrated AOD. Across all databases we found that both AH-calibrated AOD and PM(10) (adjusted by AH) were consistently associated with elevated daily events on the current day and/or lag days for cardiovascular diseases, ischemic heart diseases, and COPD. The relative risks estimated by AH-calibrated AOD and PM(10) (adjusted by AH) were similar. Additionally, compared to ground PM(10), we found that AH-calibrated AOD had narrower confidence intervals for all models and was more robust in estimating the current day and lag day effects. Our preliminary findings suggested that, with proper adjustment of meteorological factors, satellite AOD can be used directly to estimate the acute health impacts of ambient particles without prior calibrating to the sparse ground monitoring networks.

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