Title: An informative Bayesian structural equation model to assess source-specific health effects of air pollution.
Authors: Nikolov, Margaret C; Coull, Brent A; Catalano, Paul J; Godleski, John J
Published In Biostatistics, (2007 Jul)
Abstract: A primary objective of current air pollution research is the assessment of health effects related to specific sources of air particles or particulate matter (PM). Quantifying source-specific risk is a challenge because most PM health studies do not directly observe the contributions of the pollution sources themselves. Instead, given knowledge of the chemical characteristics of known sources, investigators infer pollution source contributions via a source apportionment or multivariate receptor analysis applied to a large number of observed elemental concentrations. Although source apportionment methods are well established for exposure assessment, little work has been done to evaluate the appropriateness of characterizing unobservable sources thus in health effects analyses. In this article, we propose a structural equation framework to assess source-specific health effects using speciated elemental data. This approach corresponds to fitting a receptor model and the health outcome model jointly, such that inferences on the health effects account for the fact that uncertainty is associated with the source contributions. Since the structural equation model (SEM) typically involves a large number of parameters, for small-sample settings, we propose a fully Bayesian estimation approach that leverages historical exposure data from previous related exposure studies. We compare via simulation the performance of our approach in estimating source-specific health effects to that of 2 existing approaches, a tracer approach and a 2-stage approach. Simulation results suggest that the proposed informative Bayesian SEM is effective in eliminating the bias incurred by the 2 existing approaches, even when the number of exposures is limited. We employ the proposed methods in the analysis of a concentrator study investigating the association between ST-segment, a cardiovascular outcome, and major sources of Boston PM and discuss the implications of our findings with respect to the design of future PM concentrator studies.
PubMed ID: 17032699
MeSH Terms: Air Pollution/adverse effects*; Animals; Bayes Theorem*; Biometry*; Dogs; Environmental Health; Humans; Models, Biological*; Myocardial Ischemia/etiology; Myocardial Ischemia/physiopathology