Modeling exposure to air pollution from the WTC disaster based on reports of perceived air pollution.

We examined the utility of a newly developed perceived air pollution (PAP) scale and of a modeled air pollution (MAP) scale derived from it for predicting previously observed birth outcomes of pregnant women enrolled following September 11, 2001. Women reported their home and work locations in the four weeks after September 11, 2001 and the PAP at each site on a four-point scale designed for this purpose. Locations were geocoded and their distance from the World Trade Center (WTC) site determined. PAP values were used to develop a model of air pollution for a 20-mile radius from the WTC site. MAP values were assigned to each geocoded location. We examined the relationship of PAP and MAP values to maternal characteristics and to distance of home and work sites from the WTC site. Both PAP and MAP values were highly correlated with distance from the WTC. Maternal characteristics that were associated with PAP values reported for home or work sites (race, demoralization, material hardship, first trimester on September 11) were not associated with modeled MAP values. Relationships of several birth outcomes to proximity to the WTC, which we previously reported using this data set, were also seen when MAP values were used as the measure of exposure, instead of proximity. MAP developed from reports of PAP may be useful to identify high-risk areas and predict health outcomes when there are multiple sources of pollution and a “distance from source” analysis is impossible.

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