Environ Sci Technol 2019 May 24;53(9):5071-5079. Epub 2019 Apr 24.
School of Population and Public Health , The University of British Columbia , 2206 East Mall , Vancouver , British Columbia V6T 1Z3 , Canada.
Accurate data concerning historical fine particulate matter (PM) concentrations are needed to assess long-term changes in exposure and associated health risks. We estimated historical PM concentrations over North America from 1981 to 2016 for the first time by combining chemical transport modeling, satellite remote sensing, and ground-based measurements. We constrained and evaluated our estimates with direct ground-based PM measurements when available and otherwise with historical estimates of PM from PM measurements or total suspended particle (TSP) measurements. The estimated PM concentrations were generally consistent with direct ground-based PM measurements over their duration from 1988 onward ( R = 0.6 to 0.85) and to a lesser extent with PM inferred from PM measurements from 1985 to 1998 ( R = 0.5 to 0.6). The collocated comparison of the trends of population-weighted annual average PM from our estimates and ground-based measurements was highly consistent (RMSD = 0.66 μg m). The population-weighted annual average PM over North America decreased from 22 ± 6.4 μg m in 1981, to 12 ± 3.2 μg m in 1998, and to 7.9 ± 2.1 μg m in 2016, with an overall trend of -0.33 μg m yr (95% CI: -0.35, -0.31).