ARB Research Seminar

This page updated June 19, 2013

The Exposure Pyramid Framework and its Application to a Cross-Sectional Study of Lung Function

Kyra S. Naumoff M.S., Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

September 04, 2007
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA



Approximately 3 billion people globally continue to rely on solid fuels (e.g. wood, crop residue, animal dung, coal, etc.) for their everyday cooking and heating needs. These exposures translate into 1.6 millions deaths and over 38.5 million disability-adjusted life years attributable annually to indoor air pollution (IAP) resulting from indoor smoke from solid fuels. Facilitating more accurate IAP exposure assessment and an understanding of its corresponding health effects calls for an investigation of the implications of shifting levels within a framework called the Exposure Pyramid and the development of low-cost exposure assessment instruments that allow for accurate exposure assessment in large-scale epidemiology studies.

The Exposure Assessment Pyramid is a framework that organizes the available exposure metrics for one particular hazard - here IAP in developing countries - along a spectrum from uncertain and easy at the bottom to accurate and hard at the top. Using five different carbon monoxide (CO) exposure metrics collected from 58 women in highland Guatemala, the first objective of this study was to compare trade-offs in accuracy between Levels 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 of the Exposure Pyramid. Overall, the strength of the correlations between the continuous personal CO measurements and simultaneously collected indirect and microenvironmental CO measurements ranged from adj. R2 = 0.31 - 0.42. It is possible that a particular characteristic(s) - such as household ventilation characteristics -may have influenced the correlation strengths between levels of the Pyramid.

Building on lessons learned using the Exposure Assessment Pyramid framework, IAP was measured in a cross-sectional study of 617 homes located in four geographically dispersed states in India with the primary objective of quantifying the impact of IAP exposure on pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms. Significant differences in the mean percent predicted FEV1 and FVC were detected among males in solid and clean households in Tamil Nadu and among all male clean fuel users across the four states. The strongest effects on lung function were detected relative to high concentrations of PM2.5; in this population, peak PM2.5 exposures were inversely correlated with FEV1 and FVC in women.

Speaker Biography

Kyra S. Naumoff, M.S, will receive her Ph.D. shortly from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health. Her dissertation research, described above, focused on assessing and using exposure metrics for indoor air pollution from solid fuels in Guatemala and India. In addition to her research on indoor air pollution, Ms. Naumoff has recently become engaged in climate change issues and co-authored a paper titled "Preparing the US health community for coming climate change" for the Annual Review of Public Health. Ms. Naumoff also has experience conducting remote sensing research at UC Berkeley, where she earned her MS degree investigating the relationship of environmental co-factors, related to land use change, affecting the prevalence of a tumor disease (fibropapillomatosis) in the Hawaiian green sea turtle.

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