Modeling the impact of exposure reductions using multi-stressor epidemiology, exposure models, and synthetic microdata: an application to birthweight in two environmental justice communities

Chad W. Milando, Maayan Yitshak-Sade, Antonella Zanobetti, Jonathan I. Levy, Francine Laden, M. Patricia Fabian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Many vulnerable populations experience elevated exposures to environmental and social stressors, with deleterious effects on health. Multi-stressor epidemiological models can be used to assess benefits of exposure reductions. However, requisite individual-level risk factor data are often unavailable at adequate spatial resolution. Objective: To leverage public data and novel simulation methods to estimate birthweight changes following simulated environmental interventions in two environmental justice communities in Massachusetts, USA. Methods: We gathered risk factor data from public sources (US Census, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and Massachusetts Department of Health). We then created synthetic individual-level data sets using combinatorial optimization, and probabilistic and logistic modeling. Finally, we used coefficients from a multi-stressor epidemiological model to estimate birthweight and birthweight improvement associated with simulated environmental interventions. Results: We created geographically resolved synthetic microdata. Mothers with the lowest predicted birthweight were those identifying as Black or Hispanic, with parity > 1, utilization of government prenatal support, and lower educational attainment. Birthweight improvements following greenness and temperature improvements were similar for all high-risk groups and were larger than benefits from smoking cessation. Significance: Absent private health data, this methodology allows for assessment of cumulative risk and health inequities, and comparison of individual-level impacts of localized health interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-453
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cumulative risk assessment
  • Exposure modeling
  • Multi-stressor epidemiology
  • Public data
  • Synthetic population microdata
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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