The role of ambient ozone in epidemiologic studies of heat-related mortality

Colleen E. Reid, Jonathan M. Snowden, Caitlin Kontgis, Ira B. Tager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: A large and growing literature investigating the role of extreme heat on mortality has conceptualized the role of ambient ozone in various ways, sometimes treating it as a confounder, sometimes as an effect modifier, and sometimes as a co-exposure. Thus, there is a lack of consensus about the roles that temperature and ozone together play in causing mortality. Objectives: We applied directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) to the topic of heat-related mortality to graphically represent the subject matter behind the research questions and to provide insight on the analytical options available. Discussion: On the basis of the subject matter encoded in the graphs, we assert that the role of ozone in studies of temperature and mortality is a causal intermediate that is affected by temperature and that can also affect mortality, rather than a confounder. Conclusions: We discuss possible questions of interest implied by this causal structure and propose areas of future work to further clarify the role of air pollutants in epidemiologic studies of extreme temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1627-1630
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Volume120
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Causality
  • Confounding variables
  • Epidemiology
  • Extreme heat
  • Mortality
  • Ozone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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