Environmental Science & Technology
To further the understanding and implementation of expert elicitation methods in the evaluation of public policies related to air pollution, the present study’s main goal was to explore the potential strengths and weaknesses of structured expert judgment (SEJ) methodology as a way to derive a C-R function for chronic PM2.5 exposure and premature mortality in Chile. Local experts were classified in two groups according to background and experience: physicians (Group 1) and engineers (Group 2). Experts were required to provide an estimate of the true percent change in nonaccidental mortality resulting from a permanent 1 μg/m3 reduction in PM2.5 annual average ambient concentration across the entire Chilean territory. Cooke’s Classical Model was used to combine the individual experts’ assessments. Experts’ mortality estimations varied markedly across groups: while experts in Group 1 delivered higher estimations than those reported in major international cohort studies, estimations from Group 2 were, to varying degrees, anchored to previous studies. Accordingly, combined distributions for each group and all experts were significantly different, due to the high sensitivity of the weighted distribution to experts’ performance in calibration variables. Results of this study suggest that, while the use of SEJ has great potential for estimating C-R functions for chronic exposure to PM2.5 and premature mortality and its major sources of uncertainty in countries where no studies are available, its successful implementation is conditioned by a number of factors, which are analyzed and discussed.