Airborne particulate matter and mortality: Timescale effects in four US cities

Francesca Dominici, Aidan McDermott, Scott L. Zeger, Jonathan M. Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


While time-series studies have consistently provided evidence for an effect of particulate air pollution on mortality, uncertainty remains as to the extent of the life-shortening implied by those associations. In this paper, the authors estimate the association between air pollution and mortality using different timescales of variation in the air pollution time series to gain further insight into this question. The authors' method is based on a Fourier decomposition of air pollution time series into a set of independent exposure variables, each representing a different timescale. The authors then use this set of variables as predictors in a Poisson regression model to estimate a separate relative rate of mortality for each exposure timescale. The method is applied to a database containing information on daily mortality, particulate air pollution, and weather in four US cities (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Seattle, Washington; and Chicago, Illinois) from the period 1987-1994. The authors found larger relative rates of mortality associated with particulate air pollution at longer timescale variations (14 days-2 months) than at shorter timescales (1-4 days). These analyses provide additional evidence that associations between particle indexes and mortality do not imply only an advance in the timing of death by a few days for frail individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1065
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2003


  • Air pollution
  • Fourier analysis
  • Hierarchical model
  • Mortality
  • Poisson distribution
  • Time factors
  • Time series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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