Health Effects of Airborne Particulate Matter: Do We Know Enough to Consider Regulating Specific Particle Types or Sources?
Source: Inhalation Toxicology, Volume 19, Numbers 6-7, April 2007 , pp. 457-481(25)
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
Abstract:Researchers and regulators have often considered preferentially regulating the types of ambient airborne particulate matter (PM) most relevant to human health effects. While few would argue the inherent merits of such a policy, many believe there may not yet be enough information to differentially regulate PM species. New evidence, using increasingly sophisticated methodologies, has become available in the last several years, allowing more accurate assessment of exposure and resultant associations with specific types of PM, or PM derived from different sources. Such new studies may also allow differentiation of effects from different chemical components in the same study against the same health endpoints. This article considers whether this new evidence might be adequate to allow us to "speciate" PM types or sources by severity of health effects. We address this issue with respect to two widespread sources of PM, emissions from motor vehicles and coal-fired power plants. Emissions from less widespread sources, residual oil and steel/coking facilities, are also discussed in order to illustrate how health effects associated with such emissions might instead be associated with more widespread sources when accurate exposure information is unavailable. Based upon evaluation of studies and methodologies which appear to contain the most accurate information on exposure and response to important emissions, including variable local emissions, it is concluded that public health will likely be better protected by reduction of various vehicular emissions than by continued regulation of the total mass of fine PM (PM <2.5 μ m, or PM2.5) as if all PM in this mode is equitoxic. However, the knowledge base is incomplete. Important remaining research questions are identified.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2007-04-01