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Interpersonal and daily variability of personal exposures to nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide


Chronic exposure is often assessed using a single measurement per individual or group. However, daily levels of personal exposure can vary greatly. Chronic exposure classification by a single measurement could be significantly affected by the interpersonal and daily variations of exposures. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of using a single personal exposure measurement on estimating long-term exposure. This study used measurements of consecutive 14 daily personal exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) of 50 individuals in Yeochun, Korea. The daily personal exposures were measured by passive samplers. Personal exposure to NO2 was associated with gas cooking, and personal exposure to SO2 was associated with ambient air pollution. Mixed effects models indicated that daily variability was greater than interpersonal variability for both the pollutants. Effectiveness of using single-day personal measurements for long-term population mean exposure was supported by relatively consistent daily population averages, but multiple-day measurements might be warranted for characterizing individual exposures or high-end population exposures such as the 95th percentile. Although classification of high and low exposure groups by 1-day exposure and by 14-day exposure produced similar group totals, 20% of individual NO2 exposures and 31% of individual SO2 exposures were misclassified using 1-day exposures. Average values of 1-day exposure and 14-day exposure were significantly different, but the difference decreased by an increase in the number of measurements for the short-term exposure. The findings were similar for both NO2 and SO2, although the two air pollutants have different sources and behaviors.

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This study was partially supported by the Korea National Institute of Environmental Research. We thank Jodi L. Smith for her helpful comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kiyoung Lee.

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Lee, K., Bartell, S. & Paek, D. Interpersonal and daily variability of personal exposures to nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 14, 137–143 (2004).

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