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Robust statistical approaches to understanding the causal effect of air pollution mixtures

Principal Investigator: 

University of Florida

This New Investigator Award study seeks to develop statistical methodology that allows for complex relationships between air pollution and health outcomes to be used to estimate causal effects of multivariate exposures. Additionally, the proposed methodology will allow for evaluation of separate subgroups in the population to identify the most vulnerable subgroups.

Funded under

Poster abstract for HEI Annual Conference 2022

Robust statistical approaches to understanding the causal effect of air pollution mixtures

Joseph Antonelli

Department of Statistics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Background. There is a large interest in environmental epidemiology in analyzing the impact of environmental or air pollution mixtures on public health. Despite this surge in interest, certain methodological gaps remain that limit the scope of questions that can be answered by an analysis of the air pollution mixture. In this study, we aim to fill some of these gaps and answer new questions that improve our understanding of the health effects of air pollution.

Methods. We first seek to develop new causal estimands that correspond to feasible and realistic interventions that could be applied to the air pollution mixture. Given these new estimands, we will develop statistical approaches to estimating the health effects of such interventions on public health while allowing these effects to vary by regions of the country and characteristics of the communities they are applied to. Additionally, we will discuss the movement of individuals across geographic regions and how this can affect estimates from both a measurement error perspective and a spatial interference perspective. We will develop sensitivity analyses for all approaches to assess the robustness of findings to key problems such as unmeasured confounding bias, and we will apply all of the aforementioned methodology to estimate health effects in the Medicare cohort.

Goals of the study. The goal of the proposed study is to both extend existing statistical methodology for the analysis of environmental mixtures, and provide important epidemiological insights about the health effects of air pollution in the Medicare cohort.