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1.  Childhood Air Pollutant Exposure and Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness in Young Adults 
Circulation  2012;126(13):1614-1620.
Exposure to ambient air pollutants increases risk for cardiovascular health outcomes in adults. The contribution of childhood air pollutant exposure to cardiovascular health has not been thoroughly evaluated.
Methods and results
The Testing Responses on Youth study consists of 861 college students recruited from the University of Southern California in 2007–2009. Participants attended one study visit during which blood pressure, heart rate and carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) were assessed. Self-administered questionnaires collected information about health and socio-demographic characteristics and a 12-hr fasting blood sample was drawn for lipid and biomarker analyses. Residential addresses were geocoded and used to assign cumulative air pollutant exposure estimates based on data derived from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System (AQS) database. The associations between CIMT and air pollutants were assessed using linear regression analysis. Mean CIMT was 603 μm (± 54 SD). A 2 standard deviation (SD) increase in childhood (aged 0–5 years) or elementary school (aged 6–12) O3 exposure was associated with a 7.8 μm (95% CI −0.3, 15.9) or 10.1 μm (95% CI 1.8, 18.5) higher CIMT, respectively. Lifetime exposure to O3 showed similar but non-significant associations. No associations were observed for PM2.5, PM10 or NO2 although adjustment for these pollutants strengthened the childhood O3 associations.
Childhood exposure to O3 may be a novel risk factor for CIMT in a healthy population of college students. Regulation of air pollutants and efforts that focus on limiting childhood exposures continue to be important public health goals.
PMCID: PMC3474843  PMID: 22896588
atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; carotid arteries; epidemiology; pediatrics
2.  Parental Stress Increases the Detrimental Effect of Traffic Exposure on Children's Lung Function 
Rationale: Emerging evidence indicates that psychosocial stress enhances the effect of traffic exposure on the development of asthma.
Objectives: We hypothesized that psychosocial stress would also modify the effect of traffic exposure on lung function deficits.
Methods: We studied 1,399 participants in the Southern California Children's Health Study undergoing lung function testing (mean age, 11.2 yr). We used hierarchical mixed models to assess the joint effect of traffic-related air pollution and stress on lung function.
Measurements and Main Results: Psychosocial stress in each child's household was assessed based on parental response to the perceived stress scale (range, 0–16) at study entry. Exposures to nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and total oxides of nitrogen (NOx), surrogates of the traffic-related pollution mixture, were estimated at schools and residences based on a land-use regression model. Among children from high-stress households (parental perceived stress scale >4) deficits in FEV1 of 4.5 (95% confidence interval, −6.5 to −2.4) and of 2.8% (−5.7 to 0.3) were associated with each 21.8 ppb increase in NOx at homes and schools, respectively. These pollutant effects were significantly larger in the high-stress compared with lower-stress households (interaction P value 0.007 and 0.05 for residential and school NOx, respectively). No significant NOx effects were observed in children from low-stress households. A similar pattern of association was observed for FVC. The observed associations for FEV1 and FVC remained after adjusting for sociodemographic factors and after restricting the analysis to children who do not have asthma.
Conclusions: A high-stress home environment is associated with increased susceptibility to lung function effects of air pollution both at home and at school.
PMCID: PMC3208647  PMID: 21700914
parental stress; traffic exposure; lung function; children
3.  Carotid artery intima-media thickness in college students: race/ethnicity matters 
Atherosclerosis  2011;217(2):441-446.
Racial/ethnic differences in common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) and in risk factors associated with CIMT have been predominantly observed in middle-aged and older individuals. We aimed to characterize racial/ethnic differences CIMT and other cardiovascular risk factors in a healthy, young-adult population.
College students were recruited as part of a study to characterize determinants of atherogenesis. Students were eligible if they were lifetime non-smokers, lived in the United States since six months of age, and attended high school in the United States. Blood pressure, heart rate, height, and weight were measured, B-mode carotid ultrasound was performed, questionnaires were administered and a 12-hr fasting blood sample was collected. Associations between CIMT and other variables were assessed in 768 students aged 18 to 25 years using linear regression analysis.
In models adjusted for common cardiovascular risk factors, sex exhibited the strongest influence on CIMT, with men having 15.4 µm larger CIMT compared to women (95%CI 6.6, 24.2). Race/ethnicity was also strongly associated with CIMT. African Americans had 17.3 µm greater CIMT (95% CI −0.3, 34.8) compared to non Hispanic Whites, whereas Asians and Hispanic Whites had 14.3 (95%CI −24.3, −4.4) and 15.4 (95%CI −26.2, −4.7) µm smaller CIMT, respectively. BMI and systolic blood pressure were positively associated with CIMT.
The risk factors associated with atherogenesis later in life are already present and observable in college-aged young adults, so targeted campaigns to reduce life-long cardiovascular disease burden should be initiated earlier in life to improve public health.
PMCID: PMC3146627  PMID: 21679950
CIMT; SBP; race; ethnicity; young adults
4.  Modeling the Residential Infiltration of Outdoor PM2.5 in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2012;120(6):824-830.
Background: Epidemiologic studies of fine particulate matter [aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5)] typically use outdoor concentrations as exposure surrogates. Failure to account for variation in residential infiltration efficiencies (Finf) will affect epidemiologic study results.
Objective: We aimed to develop models to predict Finf for > 6,000 homes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air), a prospective cohort study of PM2.5 exposure, subclinical cardiovascular disease, and clinical outcomes.
Methods: We collected 526 two-week, paired indoor–outdoor PM2.5 filter samples from a subset of study homes. PM2.5 elemental composition was measured by X-ray fluorescence, and Finf was estimated as the indoor/outdoor sulfur ratio. We regressed Finf on meteorologic variables and questionnaire-based predictors in season-specific models. Models were evaluated using the R2 and root mean square error (RMSE) from a 10-fold cross-validation.
Results: The mean ± SD Finf across all communities and seasons was 0.62 ± 0.21, and community-specific means ranged from 0.47 ± 0.15 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to 0.82 ± 0.14 in New York, New York. Finf was generally greater during the warm (> 18°C) season. Central air conditioning (AC) use, frequency of AC use, and window opening frequency were the most important predictors during the warm season; outdoor temperature and forced-air heat were the best cold-season predictors. The models predicted 60% of the variance in 2-week Finf, with an RMSE of 0.13.
Conclusions: We developed intuitive models that can predict Finf using easily obtained variables. Using these models, MESA Air will be the first large epidemiologic study to incorporate variation in residential Finf into an exposure assessment.
PMCID: PMC3385439  PMID: 22534026
air exchange; attenuation; deposition; exposure misclassification; penetration; ventilation
5.  Relationship between air pollution, lung function and asthma in adolescents 
Thorax  2007;62(11):957-963.
The interrelationships between air pollution, lung function and the incidence of childhood asthma have yet to be established. A study was undertaken to determine whether lung function is associated with new onset asthma and whether this relationship varies by exposure to ambient air pollutants.
A cohort of children aged 9–10 years without asthma or wheeze at study entry were identified from the Children's Health Study and followed for 8 years. The participants resided in 12 communities with a wide range of ambient air pollutants that were measured continuously. Spirometric testing was performed and a medical diagnosis of asthma was ascertained annually. Proportional hazard regression models were fitted to investigate the relationship between lung function at study entry and the subsequent development of asthma and to determine whether air pollutants modify these associations.
The level of airway flow was associated with new onset asthma. Over the 10th–90th percentile range of forced expiratory flow over the mid‐range of expiration (FEF25–75, 57.1%), the hazard ratio (HR) of new onset asthma was 0.50 (95% CI 0.35 to 0.71). This protective effect of better lung function was reduced in children exposed to higher levels of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5). Over the 10th–90th percentile range of FEF25–75, the HR of new onset asthma was 0.34 (95% CI 0.21 to 0.56) in communities with low PM2.5 (<13.7 μg/m3) and 0.76 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.26) in communities with high PM2.5 (⩾13.7 μg/m3). A similar pattern was observed for forced expiratory volume in 1 s. Little variation in HR was observed for ozone.
Exposure to high levels of PM2.5 attenuates the protective effect of better lung function against new onset asthma.
PMCID: PMC2117135  PMID: 17517830
6.  Childhood Incident Asthma and Traffic-Related Air Pollution at Home and School 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(7):1021-1026.
Traffic-related air pollution has been associated with adverse cardiorespiratory effects, including increased asthma prevalence. However, there has been little study of effects of traffic exposure at school on new-onset asthma.
We evaluated the relationship of new-onset asthma with traffic-related pollution near homes and schools.
Parent-reported physician diagnosis of new-onset asthma (n = 120) was identified during 3 years of follow-up of a cohort of 2,497 kindergarten and first-grade children who were asthma- and wheezing-free at study entry into the Southern California Children’s Health Study. We assessed traffic-related pollution exposure based on a line source dispersion model of traffic volume, distance from home and school, and local meteorology. Regional ambient ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter were measured continuously at one central site monitor in each of 13 study communities. Hazard ratios (HRs) for new-onset asthma were scaled to the range of ambient central site pollutants and to the residential interquartile range for each traffic exposure metric.
Asthma risk increased with modeled traffic-related pollution exposure from roadways near homes [HR 1.51; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25–1.82] and near schools (HR 1.45; 95% CI, 1.06–1.98). Ambient NO2 measured at a central site in each community was also associated with increased risk (HR 2.18; 95% CI, 1.18–4.01). In models with both NO2 and modeled traffic exposures, there were independent associations of asthma with traffic-related pollution at school and home, whereas the estimate for NO2 was attenuated (HR 1.37; 95% CI, 0.69–2.71).
Traffic-related pollution exposure at school and homes may both contribute to the development of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2920902  PMID: 20371422
air pollution; asthma; child; epidemiology; vehicular traffic
7.  Ozone, Oxidant Defense Genes, and Risk of Asthma during Adolescence 
Rationale: Although oxidative stress is a cardinal feature of asthma, the roles of oxidant air pollutants and antioxidant genes heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX-1), catalase (CAT), and manganese superoxide dismutase (MNSOD) in asthma pathogenesis have yet to be determined.
Objectives: We hypothesized that the functional polymorphisms of HMOX-1 ([GT]n repeat), CAT (−262C>T −844C>T), and MNSOD (Ala-9Val) are associated with new-onset asthma, and the effects of these variants vary by exposure to ozone, a potent oxidant air pollutant.
Methods: We assessed this hypothesis in a population-based cohort of non-Hispanic (n = 1,125) and Hispanic white (n = 586) children who resided in 12 California communities and who were followed annually for 8 years to ascertain new-onset asthma.
Measurements and Main Results: Air pollutants were continuously measured in each of the study communities during the 8 years of study follow-up. HMOX-1 “short” alleles (<23 repeats) were associated with a reduced risk for new-onset asthma among non-Hispanic whites (hazard ratio [HR], 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.41–0.99). This protective effect was largest in children residing in low-ozone communities (HR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.25–0.91) (interaction P value = 0.003). Little evidence for an association with HMOX-1 was observed among Hispanic children. In contrast, Hispanic children with a variant of the CAT-262 “T” allele (CT or TT) had an increased risk for asthma (HR, 1.78; P value = 0.01). The effects of these polymorphisms were not modified by personal smoking or secondhand-smoke exposure.
Conclusions: Functional promoter variants in CAT and HMOX-1 showed ethnicity-specific associations with new-onset asthma. Oxidant gene protection was restricted to children living in low-ozone communities.
PMCID: PMC2258440  PMID: 18048809
asthma; catalase; heme oxygenase-1; MnSOD; oxidative stress; ozone
8.  Health Effects of the 2003 Southern California Wildfires on Children 
Rationale: In late October 2003, Southern California wildfires burned more than 3,000 km2. The wildfires produced heavy smoke that affected several communities participating in the University of Southern California Children's Health Study (CHS).
Objectives: To study the acute effects of fire smoke on the health of CHS participants.
Methods: A questionnaire was used to assess smoke exposure and occurrence of symptoms among CHS high-school students (n = 873; age, 17–18 yr) and elementary-school children (n = 5,551; age, 6–7 yr), in a total of 16 communities. Estimates of particulate matter (PM10) concentrations during the 5 d with the highest fire activity were used to characterize community smoke level.
Main Results: All symptoms (nose, eyes, and throat irritations; cough; bronchitis; cold; wheezing; asthma attacks), medication usage, and physician visits were associated with individually reported exposure differences within communities. Risks increased monotonically with the number of reported smoky days. For most outcomes, reporting rates between communities were also associated with the fire-related PM10 levels. Associations tended to be strongest among those without asthma. Individuals with asthma were more likely to take preventive action, such as wearing masks or staying indoors during the fire.
Conclusions: Exposure to wildfire smoke was associated with increased eye and respiratory symptoms, medication use, and physician visits.
PMCID: PMC2648104  PMID: 16946126
air pollution; asthma; sore throat; wheezing
9.  Associations of Tumor Necrosis Factor G-308A with Childhood Asthma and Wheezing 
Rationale: Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) mediates a spectrum of airway inflammatory responses, including those to air pollutants, and is an asthma candidate gene. One TNF promoter variant (G–308A) affects expression of TNF and has been associated with inflammatory diseases; however, studies of asthma have been inconsistent. Because ozone produces oxidative stress, increased airway TNF, and inflammation, the associations of the −308 TNF polymorphism with asthma may vary by ozone exposure and variants of oxidant defense genes glutathione-S-transferase (GST) M1 and GSTP1.
Objectives: To investigate the association of TNF G–308A with asthma and wheezing and to determine whether these associations vary with ozone exposure and GSTM1 and GSTP1 genotype.
Methods: We studied associations of TNF–308 genotype with lifetime and current wheezing and asthma among 3,699 children in the Children's Health Study. We examined differences in associations with community ozone and by GSTM1 null and GSTP1 105 Ile/Val (A105G) genotype.
Results: Children with TNF–308 GG had decreased risk of asthma (odds ratio, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.7–0.9) and lifetime wheezing (odds ratio, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.7–0.9). The protective effects of GG genotype on wheezing outcomes were of greater magnitude in lower compared with higher ozone communities. These findings were replicated in the two cohorts of fourth-grade children recruited in 1993 and 1996. The reduction of the protective effect from the −308 GG genotype with higher ozone exposure was most marked in the GSTM1 null and GSTP1 Ile/Ile groups.
Conclusions: The TNF–308 GG genotype may have a protective role in asthma pathogenesis, depending on airway oxidative stress levels.
PMCID: PMC2662916  PMID: 16456144
child; genetic epidemiology; lung
10.  Traffic, Susceptibility, and Childhood Asthma 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2006;114(5):766-772.
Results from studies of traffic and childhood asthma have been inconsistent, but there has been little systematic evaluation of susceptible subgroups. In this study, we examined the relationship of local traffic-related exposure and asthma and wheeze in southern California school children (5–7 years of age). Lifetime history of doctor-diagnosed asthma and prevalent asthma and wheeze were evaluated by questionnaire. Parental history of asthma and child’s history of allergic symptoms, sex, and early-life exposure (residence at the same home since 2 years of age) were examined as susceptibility factors. Residential exposure was assessed by proximity to a major road and by modeling exposure to local traffic-related pollutants. Residence within 75 m of a major road was associated with an increased risk of lifetime asthma [odds ratio (OR) = 1.29; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01–1.86], prevalent asthma (OR = 1.50; 95% CI, 1.16–1.95), and wheeze (OR = 1.40; 95% CI, 1.09–1.78). Susceptibility increased in long-term residents with no parental history of asthma for lifetime asthma (OR = 1.85; 95% CI, 1.11–3.09), prevalent asthma (OR = 2.46; 95% CI, 0.48–4.09), and recent wheeze (OR = 2.74; 95% CI, 1.71–4.39). The higher risk of asthma near a major road decreased to background rates at 150–200 m from the road. In children with a parental history of asthma and in children moving to the residence after 2 years of age, there was no increased risk associated with exposure. Effect of residential proximity to roadways was also larger in girls. A similar pattern of effects was observed with traffic-modeled exposure. These results indicate that residence near a major road is associated with asthma. The reason for larger effects in those with no parental history of asthma merits further investigation.
PMCID: PMC1459934  PMID: 16675435
air pollution; asthma; child; epidemiology; traffic
11.  Air Pollution Exposure Assessment for Epidemiologic Studies of Pregnant Women and Children: Lessons Learned from the Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2005;113(10):1447-1454.
The National Children’s Study is considering a wide spectrum of airborne pollutants that are hypothesized to potentially influence pregnancy outcomes, neurodevelopment, asthma, atopy, immune development, obesity, and pubertal development. In this article we summarize six applicable exposure assessment lessons learned from the Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research that may enhance the National Children’s Study: a) Selecting individual study subjects with a wide range of pollution exposure profiles maximizes spatial-scale exposure contrasts for key pollutants of study interest. b) In studies with large sample sizes, long duration, and diverse outcomes and exposures, exposure assessment efforts should rely on modeling to provide estimates for the entire cohort, supported by subject-derived questionnaire data. c) Assessment of some exposures of interest requires individual measurements of exposures using snapshots of personal and microenvironmental exposures over short periods and/or in selected microenvironments. d) Understanding issues of spatial–temporal correlations of air pollutants, the surrogacy of specific pollutants for components of the complex mixture, and the exposure misclassification inherent in exposure estimates is critical in analysis and interpretation. e) “Usual” temporal, spatial, and physical patterns of activity can be used as modifiers of the exposure/outcome relationships. f) Biomarkers of exposure are useful for evaluation of specific exposures that have multiple routes of exposure. If these lessons are applied, the National Children’s Study offers a unique opportunity to assess the adverse effects of air pollution on interrelated health outcomes during the critical early life period.
PMCID: PMC1281294  PMID: 16203261
air pollution; airborne; ambient; Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research; Children’s Centers; cohort study; direct measurement; exposure assessment; modeling; National Children’s Study; personal measurement
12.  Ambient endotoxin concentrations in PM10 from Southern California. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(5):583-588.
Concentrations of endotoxin in urban air pollution have not previously been extensively characterized. We measured 24-hr levels of PM10 (particulate matter < 10 microm in aerodynamic diameter) and the associated endotoxin component once every 6 weeks for 1 year in 13 communities in Southern California. All the samples collected had detectable PM10 and endotoxin levels. The geometric mean PM10 was 34.6 microg/m3 [geometric SD (GSD), 2.1; range, 3.0-135]. By volume, the endotoxin geometric mean was 0.44 endotoxin units (EU)/m3 (GSD, 3.1; range, 0.03-5.44). Per unit material collected, the geometric mean of endotoxin collected was 13.6 EU/mg (GSD, 3.2; range, 0.7-96.8). No correlation was found between endotoxin concentrations and other ambient pollutants concurrently measured [ozone, nitrogen dioxide, total acids, or PM2.5 (particulate matter < 2.5 micro m in aerodynamic diameter]. PM10 and endotoxin concentrations were significantly correlated, most strongly in summer. Samples collected in more rural and agricultural areas had lower PM10 and mid-range endotoxin levels. The high desert and mountain communities had lower PM10 levels but endotoxin levels comparable with or higher than the rural agricultural sites. By volume, endotoxin levels were highest at sites downwind of Los Angeles, California, which were also the locations of highest PM10. Endotoxin concentrations measured in this study were all < 5.5 EU/m3, which is lower than recognized thresholds for acute adverse health effects for occupational exposures but in the same range as indoor household concentrations. This study provides the first extensive characterization of endotoxin concentration across a large metropolitan area in relation to PM10 and other pollutant monitoring, and supports the need for studies of the role of endotoxin in childhood asthma in urban settings.
PMCID: PMC1241925  PMID: 15064165

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