Fong, K. Di, Q. Kloog, I. Laden, F. Coull, B. Koutrakis, P. Schwartz, J. (2019). Relative toxicities of major particulate matter constituents on birthweight in Massachusetts. Environmental Epidemiology.
CRESSH researchers published a paper in Environmental Epidemiology titled “Relative toxicities of major particulate matter constituents on birthweight in Massachusetts.” Birthweight is an important predictor of health for newborns, as low birthweight is a known risk factor for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and obesity. The association between maternal exposure to PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5μm in diameter) and lower birthweight has been well-established; however, PM2.5 consists of numerous different chemical components and the relative impact of each of those components on birthweight is not known. For this reason, the study team calculated exposure to four major constituents of PM2.5 (elemental carbon, organic carbon, nitrate, and sulfate) at the address of every mother over the course of her pregnancy in Massachusetts from 2001-2012 and estimated the subsequent impact of those exposures on birthweight. The authors found that of the four chemical components of PM2.5 tested, elemental carbon (also known as black carbon) was the most toxic, followed by nitrate, then organic carbon and sulfate. These results could inform more refined air pollution control policies that incorporate the fact that some constituents of particulate matter are more toxic than others.