Long-term exposure to PM2.5 species and all-cause mortality among Medicare patients using mixtures analyses

Mahdieh Danesh Yazdi, Heresh Amini, Yaguang Wei, Edgar Castro, Liuhua Shi, Joel D. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The relationship between long-term exposure to PM2.5 and mortality is well-established; however, the role of individual species is less understood. Objectives: In this study, we assess the overall effect of long-term exposure to PM2.5 as a mixture of species and identify the most harmful of those species while controlling for the others. Methods: We looked at changes in mortality among Medicare participants 65 years of age or older from 2000 to 2018 in response to changes in annual levels of 15 PM2.5 components, namely: organic carbon, elemental carbon, nickel, lead, zinc, sulfate, potassium, vanadium, nitrate, silicon, copper, iron, ammonium, calcium, and bromine. Data on exposure were derived from high-resolution, spatio-temporal models which were then aggregated to ZIP code. We used the rate of deaths in each ZIP code per year as the outcome of interest. Covariates included demographic, temperature, socioeconomic, and access-to-care variables. We used a mixtures approach, a weighted quantile sum, to analyze the joint effects of PM2.5 species on mortality. We further looked at the effects of the components when PM2.5 mass levels were at concentrations below 8 μg/m3, and effect modification by sex, race, Medicaid status, and Census division. Results: We found that for each decile increase in the levels of the PM2.5 mixture, the rate of all-cause mortality increased by 1.4% (95% CI: 1.3%–1.4%), the rate of cardiovascular mortality increased by 2.1% (95% CI: 2.0%–2.2%), and the rate of respiratory mortality increased by 1.7% (95% CI: 1.5%–1.9%). These effects estimates remained significant and slightly higher when we restricted to lower concentrations. The highest weights for harmful effects were due to organic carbon, nickel, zinc, sulfate, and vanadium. Conclusions: Long-term exposure to PM2.5 species, as a mixture, increased the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118175
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • Air pollution
  • Chronic exposure
  • Mixtures analysis
  • Mortality
  • PM species
  • Weighted quantile sum


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