Monitoring of 1-min personal particulate matter exposures in relation to voice-recorded time-activity data.Environ Res. 2001 Dec; 87(3):199-213.ER
Recent studies on the association between exposures to airborne particulate matter (PM) and disease have identified short-term peaks in PM exposures as posing especial health threats. Lightweight personal instruments are needed to characterize short-term exposures to PM and to identify the most important sources of high PM excursions. In this study, we measured exposure to fine PM using a small personal nephelometer (pDR; MIE, Inc) to investigate the utility of this instrument in identifying activities and microenvironments most associated with high PM exposures and the magnitude and duration of peaks in PM exposures. Ten adult volunteers wore a pDR recording PM concentrations at 1-min time intervals for 1 week each. PM concentrations were measured by the pDR in units of microg/m(3) based on light scatter. The use of a time-stamped voice recorder enabled activity and location to be continuously documented in real time. In addition, a small, inexpensive light intensity logger was affixed to the pDR to evaluate the potential of this instrument to assist in verifying wearer- recorded data. For each person, patterns of PM exposure were remarkably consistent over daily activities and showed large excursions associated with specific indoor and outdoor microenvironments and activities, such as cooking. When the magnitude and duration of excursions in PM were analyzed, we found that high PM levels occurred in relatively few of the minutes measured but comprised a substantial fraction of the total exposure to PM. Fifteen-minute averaged PM levels were found to be as much as 10 times the daily average. When the data were analyzed with a generalized estimating equation model to account for effects of autocorrelation and clustering, PM exposure was significantly higher during subject-reported events including barbeque, yard work, being near pets or construction activities, cooking, and environmental tobacco smoke exposure, as compared with periods with no pollution events. When light intensity data were explored to determine whether these loggers could be of potential use in establishing or verifying indoor vs outdoor location for future PM studies, we found that personal light intensity measurements differed among indoor, outdoor, and in-car environments (P<0.001). Overlap between measured values implies that light intensity cannot be used to absolutely predict location; however, a sudden increase or decrease in light intensity was highly associated with participant report of location change between indoors and outdoors. This study demonstrates the utility of the pDR in identifying patterns of personal exposures to particulate matter and especially in registering the magnitude and duration of excursions in PM in relation to location and activity.