Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Dec 15;49(24):14184-94. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b02765. Epub 2015 Nov 12.
Air pollution health studies of fine particulate matter (diameter ≤2.5 μm, PM2.5) often use outdoor concentrations as exposure surrogates. Failure to account for variability of indoor infiltration of ambient PM2.5 and time indoors can induce exposure errors. We developed and evaluated an exposure model for individuals (EMI), which predicts five tiers of individual-level exposure metrics for ambient PM2.5 using outdoor concentrations, questionnaires, weather, and time-location information. We linked a mechanistic air exchange rate (AER) model to a mass-balance PM2.5 infiltration model to predict residential AER (Tier 1), infiltration factors (Tier 2), indoor concentrations (Tier 3), personal exposure factors (Tier 4), and personal exposures (Tier 5) for ambient PM2.5. Using cross-validation, individual predictions were compared to 591 daily measurements from 31 homes (Tiers 1-3) and participants (Tiers 4-5) in central North Carolina. Median absolute differences were 39% (0.17 h(-1)) for Tier 1, 18% (0.10) for Tier 2, 20% (2.0 μg/m(3)) for Tier 3, 18% (0.10) for Tier 4, and 20% (1.8 μg/m(3)) for Tier 5. The capability of EMI could help reduce the uncertainty of ambient PM2.5 exposure metrics used in health studies.