Research

Fine particulate matter associated with slight increased mortality in Houston


By Hannah Rhodes | September 11, 2015

Fine particulate matter released from a variety of sources in Houston was associated with slight increased mortality risk from 2000 to 2011, according to research from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The research results were published recently in Science of the Total Environment.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the amount of particulate matter in the air with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, referred to as PM2.5, should not exceed 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air within a 24-hour period. The EPA established that limit in order to protect human life and the ecosystem from harmful impact due to short-term PM2.5 exposure. PM2.5 sources in Houston include ports, vehicles and the largest petrochemical industry in the United States, among others.

“Particles this small could easily enter our bodies and cause health problems, especially for children, the elderly and those with respiratory and cardiovascular issues,” said Kai Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health. “Within PM2.5, some components are more harmful than others, but our understanding on health effects of each component is limited.”

From 2000 to 2011, the EPA measured daily levels of PM2.5 mass in Greater Houston. While the mass exceeded the national standard only 17 days out of the 11 years, Zhang found that the higher the mass was on a given day, the risk of mortality increased among Houston residents by 1.43 percent.

“Even when PM2.5 concentrations are generally below the national standard limit for short-term PM2.5 exposure, they are still likely to cause adverse health effects. Although this risk is not as high as other risk factors like smoke and hypertension, PM2.5 air pollution affects everyone, everywhere,” said Zhang.

Among all 17 selected PM2.5 components, ammonium, nitrate, sulfate and vanadium were most strongly associated with mortality risk, especially in the winter seasons.

“We think this association is the highest in winter because wind is blowing inland, outland and across long distances. This could lead to particles being blown in from regional sources,” said Zhang.

While the association between the overall amount of PM2.5 in the air and mortality has declined over the years, the association between components thought to be the most harmful and mortality has not declined.

“Air pollution regulations implemented in Houston since 2000 succeeded to some extent. Further cont rol measures to reduce air pollution should not only focus on mass, but the specific sources of PM2.5 components that are most associated with mortality,” said Zhang.

Suyang Liu, a doctoral student at the School of Public Health, was the lead author for the study, titled “Fine particulate matter components and mortality in Greater Houston: Did the risk reduce from 2000 to 2011?” Funding came from the School of Public Health.




Social Posts

profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Central Illinois group brings hunting and camaraderie to Veterans https://t.co/SjTDsu1iIn via @heraldandreview

25 mins ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

Doctors shrugged off athlete's gasping, until one heart surgeon listened: https://t.co/PtAuRt0rlM

1 hour ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

Don't know what #endometriosis is? A new Houston nonprofit wants to fix that. https://t.co/9qicJCXXuP

1 hour ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

RT @UTPhysicians: Our annual Back to School event is near! School supplies, healthy food and vaccines will be available to attendees, while…

1 hour ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

On today's blog, we're sharing common foods that pose a choking hazard risk for children and recommendations to prevent choking. Read more: https://t.co/VzGbiaci11 https://t.co/WegerJYFH4

1 hour ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

RT @HISDEspanol: PADRES: Les recordamos que el servicio de Clínica Móvil de @TexasChildrens administrará vacunas a los 150 primeros niños d…

1 hour ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

RT @HoustonISD: 🗣 PARENTS: @TexasChildrens Mobile Clinic Program will administer back-to-school vaccinations at @cmhouston to the first 150…

1 hour ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

#Colorectalcancer survivor @ARosen380 on her ostomy bag: “My quality of life has been amazing.” #ayacsm #CancerMoonshot #endcancer https://t.co/BF2addvtGj

2 hours ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

RT @RiceFootball: Why go to the moon? Why does Rice play Texas?A historic day. An iconic matchup. Relaunching in Houston on Sept. 14, 20…

2 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@MrSnarkyPants We're sorry to hear this, John. If you'd like to share more details, please email us at social@mdanderson.org. Please also include your dad's name and his date of birth.

2 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@Valeriavleria2 Your family is in our thoughts.

2 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

VA employee receives the Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award https://t.co/kaDVhKJJGG via #VAntagePoint

2 hours ago
profile_image

UTMB Health

@utmbhealth

RT @UTMBProvost: We love this fabulous picture from our School of Medicine and had to share it. Welcome to these new students entering the…

3 hours ago
profile_image

Memorial Hermann

@memorialhermann

After several small strokes, Brandon lost his ability to walk, speak and sing—a talent he loved. Learn about his journey to find his voice again: https://t.co/remJ5lJZIL. #TIRRmh #hospital https://t.co/ezBxl9OhpN

3 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

Dr. Peter Jian's favorite health tip to live by? "Treat your health as an investment for a better future." See more of his healthy habits: https://t.co/wXY9Pqv42v #healthy #habits https://t.co/0AGGD22rbS

3 hours ago