All Publications

  • A Bayesian framework for incorporating exposure uncertainty into health analyses with application to air pollution and stillbirth. Biostatistics (Oxford, England) Comess, S., Chang, H. H., Warren, J. L. 2022


    Studies of the relationships between environmental exposures and adverse health outcomes often rely on a two-stage statistical modeling approach, where exposure is modeled/predicted in the first stage and used as input to a separately fit health outcome analysis in the second stage. Uncertainty in these predictions is frequently ignored, or accounted for in an overly simplistic manner when estimating the associations of interest. Working in the Bayesian setting, we propose a flexible kernel density estimation (KDE) approach for fully utilizing posterior output from the first stage modeling/prediction to make accurate inference on the association between exposure and health in the second stage, derive the full conditional distributions needed for efficient model fitting, detail its connections with existing approaches, and compare its performance through simulation. Our KDE approach is shown to generally have improved performance across several settings and model comparison metrics. Using competing approaches, we investigate the association between lagged daily ambient fine particulate matter levels and stillbirth counts in New Jersey (2011-2015), observing an increase in risk with elevated exposure 3 days prior to delivery. The newly developed methods are available in the R package KDExp.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/biostatistics/kxac034

    View details for PubMedID 35984351

  • Statistical Modeling for Practical Pooled Testing During the COVID-19 Pandemic STATISTICAL SCIENCE Comess, S., Wang, H., Holmes, S., Donnat, C. 2022; 37 (2): 229-250

    View details for DOI 10.1214/22-STS857

    View details for Web of Science ID 000798149000006

  • Exposure to atmospheric metals using moss bioindicators and neonatal health outcomes in Portland, Oregon ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION Comess, S., Donovan, G., Gatziolis, D., Deziel, N. C. 2021; 284: 117343


    Studying the impacts of prenatal atmospheric heavy-metal exposure is challenging, because biological exposure monitoring does not distinguish between specific sources, and high-resolution air monitoring data is lacking for heavy metals. Bioindicators - animal or plant species that can capture environmental quality - are a low-cost tool for evaluating exposure to atmospheric heavy-metal pollution that have received little attention in the public-health literature. We obtained birth records for Portland, Oregon live births (2008-2014) and modeled metal concentrations derived from 346 samples of moss bioindicators collected in 2013. Exposure estimates were assigned using mother's residential address at birth for six metals with known toxic and estrogenic effects (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, nickel, lead). Associations were evaluated for continuous (cts) and quartile-based (Q) metal estimates and three birth outcomes (preterm birth (PTB; <37 weeks)), very PTB (vPTB; <32 weeks), small for gestational age (SGA; 10th percentile of weight by age and sex)) using logistic regression models with adjustment for demographic characteristics, and stratified by maternal race. Chromium and cobalt were associated with increased odds of vPTB (chromium - odds ratio (OR)cts = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.17; cobalt - ORQ4vsQ1 = 1.33, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.71). Cobalt, chromium and cadmium were significantly associated with odds of SGA, although the direction of association differed by metal (cobalt - ORcts = 1.04, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.07; chromium - ORQ3vsQ1 = 0.91, 95% CI: 0.83, 0.99; cadmium - ORcts = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.93, 1.00). In stratified analyses, odds of SGA were significantly different among non-white mothers compared to white mothers with exposure to chromium, cobalt, lead and nickel. This novel application of a moss-based exposure metric found that exposure to some atmospheric metals is associated with adverse birth outcomes. These findings are consistent with previous literature and suggest that moss bioindicators are a useful complement to traditional exposure-assessment methods.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117343

    View details for Web of Science ID 000672534900011

    View details for PubMedID 34030082