Despite strong longitudinal associations between particle personal exposures and ambient concentrations, previous studies have found considerable inter-personal variability in these associations. Factors contributing to this inter-personal variability are important to identify in order to improve our ability to assess particulate exposures for individuals. This paper examines whether ambient, home outdoor and home indoor particle concentrations can be used as proxies of corresponding personal exposures. We explore the strength of the associations between personal, home indoor, home outdoor and ambient concentrations of sulfate, fine particle mass (PM2.5) and elemental carbon (EC) by season and subject for 25 individuals living in the Boston, MA, USA area. Ambient sulfate concentrations accounted for approximately 70 to 80% of the variability in personal and indoor sulfate levels. Correlations between ambient and personal sulfate, however, varied by subject (0.1 – 1.0), with associations between personal and outdoor sulfate concentrations generally mirroring personal-ambient associations (median subject-specific correlations of 0.8 to 0.9). Ambient sulfate concentrations are good indicators of personal exposures for individuals living in the Boston area, even though their levels may differ from actual personal exposures. The strong associations for sulfate indicate that ambient concentrations and housing characteristics are the driving factors determining personal sulfate exposures. Ambient PM2.5 and EC concentrations were more weakly associated with corresponding personal and indoor levels, as compared to sulfate. For EC and PM2.5, local traffic, indoor sources and/or personal activities can significantly weaken associations with ambient concentrations. Infiltration was shown to impact the ability of ambient concentrations to reflect exposures with higher exposures to particles from ambient sources during summer. In contrast in the winter, lower infiltration can result in a greater contribution of indoor sources to PM2.5 and EC exposures. Placing EC monitors closer to participants’ homes may reduce exposure error in epidemiological studies of traffic-related particles, but this reduction in exposure error may be greater in winter than summer. It should be noted that approximately 20% of the EC data were below the field limit of detection, making it difficult to determine if the weaker associations with the central site for EC were merely a result of methodological limitations.
Impaired fetal development is associated with a number of adult chronic diseases and it is believed that these associations arise as a result of the phenomenon of “epigenetic programming”, which involves persisting changes in structure and function of various body organs caused by ambient factors during critical and vulnerable periods of early development. The main goal of the study was to assess the association between lung function in early childhood and prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5 ), which represents a wide range of chemical compounds potentially hazardous for fetal development. Among pregnant women recruited prenatally to the study personal measurements of PM2.5 was performed over 48 hours in the second trimester of pregnancy. After delivery, infants were followed over five years and the interviewers visited participants at their homes to record children’s respiratory symptoms every three months in the child’s first two years of life and every 6 months later. In the fifth year of the follow-up, children were invited for standard lung function testing and quantified by FVC, FEV1 and FEV05 levels. Material consisted of 176 children of nonsmoking mothers, who performed at least two acceptable spirometry measurements. Multivariable linear regression model showed a significant deficit of FVC at the highest quartile of PM2.5 exposure (beta coefficient = − 91.9 , P = 0.008), after adjustment for covariates (age, gender, birth weight, height and wheezing). Also FEV1 level in children was inversely correlated with prenatal exposure to PM2.5, and the average FEV1 deficit amounted to 87.7 ml (P = 0.008) at the higher level of exposure. Although the effect of PM2.5 exposure on FEV05 was proportionally weaker (−72.7, P = 0.026) it was significant as well. The lung function level was inversely and significantly associated with the wheezing recorded over the follow-up. The findings showed that significant lung function deficits in early childhood is associated with prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter, which may affect fetal lung growth.
prenatal exposure; air pollution; birth cohort; lung function; preschool children
Ultrafine particles (UFP; aerodynamic diameter < 0.1 micrometers) are a ubiquitous exposure in the urban environment and are elevated near highways. Most epidemiological studies of UFP health effects use central site monitoring data, which may misclassify exposure. Our aims were to: (1) examine the relationship between distant and proximate monitoring sites and their ability to predict hourly UFP concentration measured at residences in an urban community with a major interstate highway and; (2) determine if meteorology and proximity to traffic improve explanatory power. Short-term (1 – 3 weeks) residential monitoring of UFP concentration was conducted at 18 homes. Long-term monitoring was conducted at two near-highway monitoring sites and a central site. We created models of outdoor residential UFP concentration based on concentrations at the near-highway site, at the central site, at both sites together and without fixed sites. UFP concentration at residential sites was more highly correlated with those at a near-highway site than a central site. In regression models of each site alone, a 10% increase in UFP concentration at a near-highway site was associated with a 6% (95% CI: 6%, 7%) increase at residences while a 10% increase in UFP concentration at the central site was associated with a 3% (95% CI: 2%, 3%) increase at residences. A model including both sites showed minimal change in the magnitude of the association between the near-highway site and the residences, but the estimated association with UFP concentration at the central site was substantially attenuated. These associations remained after adjustment for other significant predictors of residential UFP concentration, including distance from highway, wind speed, wind direction, highway traffic volume and precipitation. The use of a central site as an estimate of personal exposure for populations near local emissions of traffic-related air pollutants may result in exposure misclassification.
Ultrafine particles; highway; community-based participatory research; CBPR; temporal variation; residential exposure
Particulate matter (PM) is an important metric for studying the health effects of household air pollution. There are limited data on PM exposure for children in homes that use biomass fuels, and no previous study has used direct measurement of personal exposure in children younger than 5 years of age. We estimated PM2.5 exposure for 1,266 children in The Gambia by applying the cookhouse PM2.5-CO relationship to the child’s CO exposure. Using this indirect method, mean PM2.5 exposure for all subjects was 135 ± 38 μg/m3; 25% of children had exposures of 151 μg/m3 or higher. Indirectly-estimated exposure was highest among children who lived in homes that used firewood (collected or purchased) as their main fuel (144 μg/m3) compared to those who used charcoal (85 μg/m3). To validate the indirect method, we also directly measured PM2.5 exposure on 31 children. Mean exposure for this validation dataset was 65 ± 41 μg/m3 using actual measurement and 125 ± 54 μg/m3 using the indirect method based on CO exposure. The correlation coefficient between direct measurements and indirect estimates was 0.01. Children in The Gambia have relatively high PM2.5 exposure. There is a need for simple methods that can directly measure PM2.5 exposure in field studies.
Indoor air pollution; biomass fuels; child survival; global health; Africa; particulate matter; exposure assessment; statistical model
Prenatal Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) has been associated with increased risk of allergic disease in early childhood, an association that could be due to increased altered susceptibility induced by air pollutants. The main goal of the study was to test the hypothesis that prenatal Paracetamol exposure increases the risk of developing eczema in early childhood and that this association is stronger for children who are exposed prenatally to higher concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The study sample consisted of 322 women recruited from January 2001 to February 2004 in the Krakow inner city area who gave birth to term babies and completed 5-year follow-up. Paracetamol use in pregnancy was collected by interviews and prenatal personal exposure to over 48 hours was measured in all recruited women in the second trimester of PM2.5 pregnancy. After delivery, every three months in the first 24 months of the newborn’s life and every 6 months later, a detailed standardized face-to-face interview on the infant’s health was administered to each mother by a trained interviewer. During the interviews at each of the study periods after birth, a history of eczema was recorded.
By Cox proportional hazard regression, prenatal exposure to Paracetamol increased the risk of eczema by 20% and PM2.5 by 6%, albeit non significantly. However, the the joint exposure to Paracetamol and higher prenatal PM2.5 was significant and doubled the risk of eczema symptoms (HR = 2.07, 95%CI: 1.01 – 4.34). The findings suggest that even very small doses of Paracetamol in pregnancy may affect the occurrence of allergy outcomes such as eczema in early childhood but only at the co-exposure to higher fine particulate matter.
birth cohort study; eczema; children; acetaminophen; pregnancy; prenatal fine particulate matter
Children living near hazardous waste sites may be exposed to environmental contaminants, yet few studies have conducted multi-media exposure assessments, including residential environments where children spend most of their time. We sampled yard soil, house dust, and particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 in 59 homes of young children near an abandoned mining area and analyzed samples for lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), and manganese (Mn). In over half of the homes, dust concentrations of Pb, Zn, Cd, and As were higher than those in soil. Proximity to mine waste (chat) piles and the presence of chat in the driveway significantly predicted dust metals levels. Homes with both chat sources had Pb, Zn, Cd, and As dust levels two to three times higher than homes with no known chat sources after controlling for other sources. In contrast, Mn concentrations in dust were consistently lower than in soil and were not associated with chat sources. Mn dust concentrations were predicted by soil concentrations and occupant density. These findings suggest that nearby outdoor sources of metal contaminants from mine waste may migrate indoors. Populations farther away from the mining site may also be exposed if secondary uses of chat are in close proximity to the home.
house dust; indoor air pollution; metals; mine waste; residential exposures; Tar Creek Superfund Site
As there is a scarcity of evidence on potential hazards and preventive factors for infantile eczema operating in the prenatal period, the main goal of this study was to assess the role of prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the occurrence of infant eczema jointly with the possible modulating effect of maternal fish consumption.
The study sample consisted of 469 women enrolled during pregnancy, who gave birth to term babies (>36 weeks of gestation). Among all pregnant women recruited, personal measurements of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were performed over 48 h in the second trimester of pregnancy. After delivery, every 3 months in the first year of the newborn's life, a detailed, standardized, face-to-face interview was administered to each mother, in the process of which a trained interviewer recorded any history of infantile eczema and data on potential environmental hazards. The estimated risk of eczema related to higher prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5 >53.0 μg/m3) and postnatal ETS as well as the protective effect of maternal fish intake were adjusted for potential confounders in a multivariable logistic regression model.
While the separate effects of higher prenatal PM2.5 and postnatal ETS exposure were not statistically significant, their joint effect appeared to have a significant influence on the occurrence of infantile eczema [odds ratio 2.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–5.18]. With maternal fish intake of more than 205 g/week, the risk of eczema decreased by 43% (odds ratio 0.57, 95% CI 0.35–0.93). The incidence rate ratio (IRR) for eczema symptoms, estimated from the Poisson regression model, was increased with both higher exposure to prenatal PM2.5 and postnatal ETS (IRR 1.55, 95% CI 0.99–2.44) and in children of atopic mothers (IRR 1.35, 95% CI 1.04–1.75) but was lower in girls (IRR 0.78, 95% CI 0.61–1.00). The observed preventive effect of fish consumption on the frequency of eczema symptoms was consistent with the results of the logistic analysis (IRR 0.72, 95% CI 0.52–0.99).
The findings indicate that higher prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter combined with postnatal exposure to ETS may increase the risk of infant eczema, while maternal fish intake during pregnancy may reduce the risk of infantile eczema.
Fish consumption; Prenatal exposure to fine particles; Cow's milk allergy; Passive tobacco smoke; Cohort study
Although the entire duration of fetal development is generally considered a highly susceptible period, it is of public health interest to determine a narrower window of heightened vulnerability to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in humans. We posited that exposure to PAHs during the first trimester impairs fetal growth more severely than a similar level of exposure during the subsequent trimesters.
In a group of healthy, non-smoking pregnant women with no known risks of adverse birth outcomes, personal exposure to eight airborne PAHs was monitored once during the second trimester for the entire cohort (n = 344), and once each trimester within a subset (n = 77). Both air monitoring and self-reported PAH exposure data were used in order to statistically estimate PAH exposure during the entire gestational period for each individual newborn.
One natural-log unit increase in prenatal exposure to the eight summed PAHs during the first trimester was associated with the largest decrement in the Fetal Growth Ratio (FGR) (−3%, 95% Confidence Interval (CI), −5 to −0%), birthweight (−105 g, 95% CI, −188 to −22 g), and birth length (−0.78 cm, 95% CI, −1.30 to −0.26 cm), compared to the unit effects of PAHs during the subsequent trimesters, after accounting for confounders. Furthermore, a unit exposure during the first trimester was associated with the largest elevation in Cephalization Index (head to weight ratio) (3 μm/g, 95% CI, 1 to 5 μm/g). PAH exposure was not associated with evidence of asymmetric growth restriction in this cohort.
PAH exposure appears to exert the greatest adverse effect on fetal growth during the first trimester. The present data support the need for the protection of pregnant women and the embryo/fetus, particularly during the earliest stage of pregnancy.
Recent air pollutant measurement data document unique aspects of the air pollution mixture near roadways, and an expanding body of epidemiological data suggests increased risks for exacerbation of asthma and other respiratory diseases, premature mortality, and certain cancers and birth outcomes from air pollution exposures in populations residing in relatively close proximity to roadways. The Workshop on Traffic, Health, and Infrastructure Planning, held in February 2004, was convened to provide a forum for interdisciplinary discussion of motor vehicle emissions, exposures and potential health effects related to proximity to motor vehicle traffic. This report summarizes the workshop discussions and findings regarding the current science on this issue, identifies planning and policy issues related to localized motor vehicle emissions and health concerns, and provides recommendations for future research and policy directions.
air pollution; exposure assessment; health effects; motor vehicle emissions; traffic proximity
The United States Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 reflected increasing concern about potential effects of low-level airborne metal exposure on a wide array of illnesses. Here we summarize results demonstrating that the New York City (NYC) subway system provides an important microenvironment for metal exposures for NYC commuters and subway workers and also describe an ongoing pilot study of NYC transit workers' exposure to steel dust. Results from the TEACH (Toxic Exposure Assessment, a Columbia and Harvard) study in 1999 of 41 high-school students strongly suggest that elevated levels of iron, manganese, and chromium in personal air samples were due to exposure to steel dust in the NYC subway. Airborne concentrations of these three metals associated with fine particulate matter were observed to be more than 100 times greater in the subway environment than in home indoor or outdoor settings in NYC. While there are currently no known health effects at the airborne levels observed in the subway system, the primary aim of the ongoing pilot study is to ascertain whether the levels of these metals in the subway air affect concentrations of these metals or related metabolites in the blood or urine of exposed transit workers, who due to their job activities could plausibly have appreciably higher exposures than typical commuters. The study design involves recruitment of 40 transit workers representing a large range in expected exposures to steel dust, the collection of personal air samples of fine particulate matter, and the collection of blood and urine samples from each monitored transit worker.
Bioavailability; Chromium; Dose-response; Hazardous air pollutants; Iron; Manganese; Metro; Steel dust; Subway; transit workers; Underground railway
There is increasing interest in potential health effects of airborne exposures to hazardous air pollutants at relatively low levels. This study focuses on sources, levels, and exposure pathways of manganese, chromium, and iron among inner-city high school students in New York City (NYC) and the contribution of subways. Samples of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were collected during winter and summer over 48 h periods in a variety of settings including inside homes, outdoors, and personal samples (i.e., sampling packs carried by subjects). PM2.5 samples were also collected in the NYC subway system. For NYC, personal samples had significantly higher concentrations of iron, manganese, and chromium than did home indoor and ambient samples. The ratios and strong correlations between pairs of elements suggested steel dust as the source of these metals for a large subset of the personal samples. Time–activity data suggested NYC subways as a likely source of these elevated personal metals. In duplicate PM2.5 samples that integrated 8 h of underground subway exposure, iron, manganese, and chromium levels (>2 orders of magnitude above ambient levels) and their ratios were consistent with the elevated personal exposures. Steel dust in the NYC subway system was the dominant source of airborne exposures to iron, manganese, and chromium for many young people enrolled in this study, with the same results expected for other NYC subway riders who do not have occupational exposures to these metals. However, there are currently no known health effects at the exposure levels observed in this study.
The relationship between traffic emissions and mobile-source air pollutant concentrations is highly variable over space and time and therefore difficult to model accurately, especially in urban settings with complex terrain. Regression-based approaches using continuous real-time mobile measurements may be able to characterize spatiotemporal variability in traffic-related pollutant concentrations but require methods to incorporate temporally varying meteorology and source strength in a physically interpretable fashion.
We developed a statistical model to assess the joint impact of both meteorology and traffic on measured concentrations of mobile-source air pollutants over space and time.
In this study, traffic-related air pollutants were continuously measured in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York (USA), which is affected by traffic on a large bridge and major highway. One-minute average concentrations of ultrafine particulate matter (UFP), fine particulate matter [≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5)], and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were measured using a mobile-monitoring protocol. Regression modeling approaches to quantify the influence of meteorology, traffic volume, and proximity to major roadways on pollutant concentrations were used. These models incorporated techniques to capture spatial variability, long- and short-term temporal trends, and multiple sources.
We observed spatial heterogeneity of both UFP and PM2.5 concentrations. A variety of statistical methods consistently found a 15–20% decrease in UFP concentrations within the first 100 m from each of the two major roadways. For PM2.5, temporal variability dominated spatial variability, but we observed a consistent linear decrease in concentrations from the roadways.
The combination of mobile monitoring and regression analysis was able to quantify local source contributions relative to background while accounting for physically interpretable parameters. Our results provide insight into urban exposure gradients.
mobile measurements; mobile sources; regression; spatial variation; ultrafine particles; urban air quality
The objective of this study was to assess a hypothesized beneficial effect of fish consumption during the last trimester of pregnancy on adverse birth outcomes resulting from prenatal exposure to fine air particulate matter.
The cohort consisted of 481 nonsmoking women with singleton pregnancies, of 18–35 years of age, who gave birth at term. All recruited women were asked about their usual diet over the period of pregnancy. Measurements of particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in size (PM2.5) were carried out by personal air monitoring over 48 h during the second trimester of pregnancy. The effect of PM2.5 and fish intake during gestation on the birth weight of the babies was estimated from multivariable linear regression models, which beside the main independent variables considered a set of potential confounding factors such as the size of the mother (height, prepregnancy weight), maternal education, parity, the gender of the child, gestational age and the season of birth.
The study showed that the adjusted birth weight was significantly lower in newborns whose mothers were exposed to particulate matter greater than 46.3 μg/m3 (β coefficient = −97.02, p = 0.032). Regression analysis stratified by the level of maternal fish consumption (in tertiles) showed that the deficit in birth weight amounted to 133.26 g (p = 0.052) in newborns whose mothers reported low fish intake (<91 g/week). The birth weight deficit in newborns whose mothers reported medium (91–205 g/week) or higher fish intake (>205 g/week) was insignificant. The interaction term between PM2.5 and fish intake levels was also insignificant (β = −107,35, p = 0.215). Neither gestational age nor birth weight correlated with maternal fish consumption.
The results suggest that a higher consumption of fish by women during pregnancy may reduce the risk of adverse effects of prenatal exposure to toxicants and highlight the fact that a full assessment of adverse birth outcomes resulting from prenatal exposure to ambient hazards should consider maternal nutrition during pregnancy.
Air pollutants; Prenatal exposure; Fish consumption; Birth size; Cohort study
There is growing concern in communities surrounding airports regarding the contribution of various emission sources (such as aircraft and ground support equipment) to nearby ambient concentrations. We used extensive monitoring of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in neighborhoods surrounding T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, RI, and land-use regression (LUR) modeling techniques to determine the impact of proximity to the airport and local traffic on these concentrations.
Palmes diffusion tube samplers were deployed along the airport's fence line and within surrounding neighborhoods for one to two weeks. In total, 644 measurements were collected over three sampling campaigns (October 2007, March 2008 and June 2008) and each sampling location was geocoded. GIS-based variables were created as proxies for local traffic and airport activity. A forward stepwise regression methodology was employed to create general linear models (GLMs) of NO2 variability near the airport. The effect of local meteorology on associations with GIS-based variables was also explored.
Higher concentrations of NO2 were seen near the airport terminal, entrance roads to the terminal, and near major roads, with qualitatively consistent spatial patterns between seasons. In our final multivariate model (R2 = 0.32), the local influences of highways and arterial/collector roads were statistically significant, as were local traffic density and distance to the airport terminal (all p < 0.001). Local meteorology did not significantly affect associations with principal GIS variables, and the regression model structure was robust to various model-building approaches.
Our study has shown that there are clear local variations in NO2 in the neighborhoods that surround an urban airport, which are spatially consistent across seasons. LUR modeling demonstrated a strong influence of local traffic, except the smallest roads that predominate in residential areas, as well as proximity to the airport terminal.
The main goal of the paper was to assess the pattern of risk factors having an impact on the onset of early wheezing phenotypes in the birth cohort of 468 two-year olds and to investigate the severity of respiratory illness in the two-year olds in relation to both wheezing phenotypes, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and personal PM2.5 exposure over pregnancy period (fine particulate matter). The secondary goal of the paper was to assess possible association of early persistent wheezing with the length of the baby at birth. Pregnant women were recruited from ambulatory prenatal clinics in the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Only women 18–35 years of age, who claimed to be non-smokers, with singleton pregnancies, without illicit drug use and HIV infection, free from chronic diseases were eligible for the study. In the statistical analysis of respiratory health of children multinomial logistic regression and zero-inflated Poisson regression models were used. Approximately one third of the children in the study sample experienced wheezing in the first two years of life and in about two third of cases (67%) the symptom developed already in the first year of life. The early wheezing was easily reversible and in about 70% of infants with wheezing the symptom receded in the second year of life. The adjusted relative risk ratio (RRR) of persistent wheezing increased with maternal atopy (RRR = 3.05; 95%CI: 1.30 – 7.15), older siblings (RRR = 3.05; 95%CI: 1.67 – 5.58) and prenatal ETS exposure (RRR= 1.13; 95%CI: 1.04 – 1.23), but was inversely associated with the length of baby at birth (RRR = 0.88; 95%CI: 0.76 – 1.01). The adjusted incidence risk ratios (IRR) of coughing, difficult breathing, runny/stuffy nose and pharyngitis/tonsillitis in wheezers were much higher than that observed among non-wheezers and significantly depended on prenatal PM2.5 exposure, older siblings and maternal atopy. The study shows a clear inverse association between maternal age or maternal education and respiratory illnesses and calls for more research efforts aiming at explanation of factors hidden behind proxy measures of quality of maternal care of babies. The data support the hypothesis that burden of respiratory symptoms in early childhood and possibly in later life may be programmed already in prenatal period when the respiratory system is completing its growth and maturation.
wheezing phenotypes; respiratory symptoms; prenatal and postnatal environmental air quality; birth cohort study
Sources of air pollution in developing country cities include transportation and industrial pollution, biomass and coal fuel use, and resuspended dust from unpaved roads.
Our goal was to understand within-neighborhood spatial variability of particulate matter (PM) in communities of varying socioeconomic status (SES) in Accra, Ghana, and to quantify the effects of nearby sources on local PM concentration.
We conducted 1 week of morning and afternoon mobile and stationary air pollution measurements in four study neighborhoods. PM with aerodynamic diameters ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5) and ≤ 10 μm (PM10) was measured continuously, with matched global positioning system coordinates; detailed data on local sources were collected at periodic stops. The effects of nearby sources on local PM were estimated using linear mixed-effects models.
In our measurement campaign, the geometric means of PM2.5 and PM10 along the mobile monitoring path were 21 and 49 μg/m3, respectively, in the neighborhood with highest SES and 39 and 96 μg/m3, respectively, in the neighborhood with lowest SES and highest population density. PM2.5 and PM10 were as high as 200 and 400 μg/m3, respectively, in some segments of the path. After adjusting for other factors, the factors that had the largest effects on local PM pollution were nearby wood and charcoal stoves, congested and heavy traffic, loose dirt road surface, and trash burning.
Biomass fuels, transportation, and unpaved roads may be important determinants of local PM variation in Accra neighborhoods. If confirmed by additional or supporting data, the results demonstrate the need for effective and equitable interventions and policies that reduce the impacts of traffic and biomass pollution.
Africa; biomass; geographic information system; particulate matter; poverty; spatial; urbanization
Providing care for children with asthma can be demanding and time-intensive with far-reaching effects on caregivers’ lives. Studies have documented childhood asthma symptom reductions and improved asthma-related quality of life (AQOL) with indoor allergen-reducing environmental interventions. Few such studies, however, have considered ancillary benefits to caregivers or other family members. Ancillary benefits could be derived from child health improvements and reduced caregiving burden or from factors such as improved living environments or social support that often accompanies intensive residential intervention efforts. As part of the Boston Healthy Public Housing Initiative (HPHI), a longitudinal single-cohort intervention study of asthmatic children, we examined trends in caregivers’ quality of life related to their child’s asthma (caregiver AQOL) using monthly Juniper Caregiver Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaires (AQLQ) for 32 primary caregivers to 42 asthmatic children aged 4 to 17 years. Longitudinal analyses were used to examine caregiver AQOL trends and their relationship to the child’s AQOL, then to consider additional predictors of caregiver AQOL. Caregiver AQLQ improved significantly over the course of the study with overall improvements significantly correlated with child AQOL (p = 0.005). However, caregiver AQOL improved most in the months before environmental interventions, while children’s AQOL improved most in the months following. Time trends in caregiver AQOL, controlling for child AQOL, were not explained by available social support or caregiver stress measures. Our findings suggest potential participation effects not adequately captured by standard measures. Future environmental intervention studies should more formally consider social support and participation effects for both children and caregivers
Urban childhood asthma; Quality of life; Environmental interventions; Psychological factors
Flame retardant chemicals are used in materials on airplanes to slow the propagation of fire. These chemicals migrate from their source products and can be found in the dust of airplanes, creating the potential for exposure.
To characterize exposure to flame retardant chemicals in airplane dust, we collected dust samples from locations inside 19 commercial airplanes parked overnight at airport gates. In addition, hand-wipe samples were also collected from 9 flight attendants and 1 passenger who had just taken a cross-country (USA) flight. The samples were analyzed for a suite of flame retardant chemicals. To identify the possible sources for the brominated flame retardants, we used a portable XRF analyzer to quantify bromine concentrations in materials inside the airplanes.
A wide range of flame retardant compounds were detected in 100% of the dust samples collected from airplanes, including BDEs 47, 99, 153, 183 and 209, tris(1,3-dichloro-isopropyl)phosphate (TDCPP), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and bis-(2-ethylhexyl)-tetrabromo-phthalate (TBPH). Airplane dust contained elevated concentrations of BDE 209 (GM: 500 ug/g; range: 2,600 ug/g) relative to other indoor environments, such as residential and commercial buildings, and the hands of participants after a cross-country flight contained elevated BDE 209 concentrations relative to the general population. TDCPP, a known carcinogen that was removed from use in children’s pajamas in the 1970’s although still used today in other consumer products, was detected on 100% of airplanes in concentrations similar to those found in residential and commercial locations.
This study adds to the limited body of knowledge regarding exposure to flame retardants on commercial aircraft, an environment long hypothesized to be at risk for maximum exposures due to strict flame retardant standards for aircraft materials. Our findings indicate that flame retardants are widely used in many airplane components and all airplane types, as expected. Most flame retardants, including TDCPP, were detected in 100% of dust samples collected from the airplanes. The concentrations of BDE 209 were elevated by orders of magnitude relative to residential and office environments.
Flame retardants; Airplanes; Dust exposure; Hand-wipe samples
There is growing evidence linking poor housing conditions and respiratory diseases, including asthma. The association between housing conditions and asthma in the inner city has been attributed in part to cockroach and mouse infestation and the resulting allergen exposures. Multiple social and behavioral factors can influence environmental exposures and health conditions, necessitating a thorough examination of such factors. As part of the Healthy Public Housing Initiative, we evaluated the association between physical and household characteristics and pest-related allergen levels in three public housing developments in Boston, MA. We detected cockroach allergens (Bla g 1 and Bla g 2) in bedroom air, bed, and especially high concentrations in kitchen samples. In multivariate Tobit regressions controlling for development and season, clutter and lack of cleanliness in the apartment were associated with a tenfold increase in Bla g 1 concentration in the air, a sevenfold increase in Bla g 1 and an eightfold increase in Bla g 2 concentrations in the bed, and an 11-fold increase in Bla g 2 in the kitchen (p<0.05 for all). Holes in the wall/ceiling were associated with a six- to 11-fold increase in kitchen cockroach allergen concentrations (p<0.05). Occupancy in an apartment unit of 2 years or more was also associated with increased cockroach allergen concentrations. In contrast, there were low concentrations of mouse urinary protein in this population. In conclusion, these results suggest that interventions in these homes should focus on reducing cockroach allergen concentrations and that building-wide interventions should be supplemented with targeted efforts focused on high-risk units.
Asthma; Allergen; Cockroach; Mouse; Home characteristics; Low-income; Community-based participatory research
In this study we compared cancer risks from organic hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) based on total personal exposure summed across different microenvironments and exposure pathways.
We developed distributions of personal exposure concentrations using field monitoring and modeling data for inhalation and, where relevant, ingestion pathways. We calculated risks for a nonoccupationally exposed and nonsmoking population using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) unit risks. We determined the contribution to risk from indoor versus outdoor sources using indoor/outdoor ratios for gaseous compounds and the infiltration factor for particle-bound compounds.
With OEHHA’s unit risks, the highest ranking compounds based on the population median are 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, benzene, and dioxin, with risks on the order of 10−4–10−5. The highest risk compounds with the U.S. EPA unit risks were dioxin, benzene, formaldehyde, and chloroform, with risks on a similar order of magnitude. Although indoor exposures are responsible for nearly 70% of risk using OEHHA’s unit risks, when infiltration is accounted for, inhalation of outdoor sources contributed 50% to total risk, on average. Additionally, 15% of risk resulted from exposures through food, mainly due to dioxin.
Most of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, benzene, acetaldehyde, and 1,3-butadiene risk came from outdoor sources, whereas indoor sources were primarily responsible for chloroform, formaldehyde, and naphthalene risks. The infiltration of outdoor pollution into buildings, emissions from indoor sources, and uptake through food are all important to consider in reducing overall personal risk to HAPs.
hazardous air pollutants; personal exposure; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; risk assessment; volatile organic compounds
The Toxics Exposure Assessment Columbia–Harvard (TEACH) project assessed exposures and cancer risks from urban air pollutants in a population of high school teenagers in New York City (NYC) and Los Angeles (LA). Forty-six high school students participated in NYC and 41 in LA, most in two seasons in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
Personal, indoor home, and outdoor home 48-hr samples of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), aldehydes, particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm, and particle-bound elements were collected. Individual cancer risks for 13 VOCs and 6 particle-bound elements were calculated from personal concentrations and published cancer unit risks.
The median cumulative risk from personal VOC exposures for this sample of NYC high school students was 666 per million and was greater than the risks from ambient exposures by a factor of about 5. In the LA sample, median cancer risks from VOC personal exposures were 486 per million, about a factor of 4 greater than ambient exposure risks. The VOCs with the highest cancer risk included 1,4-dichlorobenzene, formaldehyde, chloroform, acetaldehyde, and benzene. Of these, benzene had the greatest contributions from outdoor sources. All others had high contributions from indoor sources. The cumulative risks from personal exposures to the elements were an order of magnitude lower than cancer risks from VOC exposures.
Most VOCs had median upper-bound lifetime cancer risks that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) benchmark of 1 × 10−6 and were generally greater than U.S. EPA modeled estimates, more so for compounds with predominant indoor sources. Chromium, nickel, and arsenic had median personal cancer risks above the U.S. EPA benchmark with exposures largely from outdoors and other microenvironments. The U.S. EPA–modeled concentrations tended to overestimate personal cancer risks for beryllium and chromium but underestimate risks for nickel and arsenic.
aldehydes; cancer risk assessment; metals; personal exposures; VOCs
Only few studies have assessed the relative impact of prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke on the child's later asthma or chronic respiratory symptoms and to our knowledge no studies have elaborated respiratory infections and allergies in this context.
To assess the effects of prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke on respiratory health of Russian school children.
We studied a population of 5951 children (8 to12 years old) from 9 Russian cities, whose parents answered a questionnaire on their children's respiratory health, home environment, and housing characteristics. The main health outcomes were asthma, allergies, chronic respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and upper respiratory infections. We used adjusted odds ratios (ORs) from logistic regression analyses as measures of effect.
Prenatal exposure due to maternal smoking had the strongest effects on asthma (adjusted OR 2.46, 95% CI 1.19–5.08), chronic bronchitis (adjusted OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.08–1.96) and respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing (adjusted OR 1.30, 95% CI 0.90–1.89). The associations were weaker for exposure during early-life (adjusted ORs 1.38/1.27/1.15 respectively) and after 2 years of age (adjusted ORs 1.45/1.34/1.18) compared to prenatal exposure and the weakest or non-existent for current exposure (adjusted ORs 1.05/1.09/1.06). Upper respiratory infections were associated more strongly with early-life exposure (adjusted OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.09–1.42) than with prenatal (adjusted OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.54–1.01) or current exposure (adjusted OR1.05, 95% CI 0.92–1.20). The risk of allergies was also related to early life exposure to tobacco smoke (adjusted OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.13–1.42).
Adverse effects of tobacco smoke on asthma, chronic bronchitis, and chronic respiratory symptoms are strongest when smoking takes place during pregnancy. The relations are weaker for exposure during early-life and after 2 years of age and weakest or non-existent for current exposure.
The United States Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 reflected increasing concern about potential effects of low-level airborne metal exposure on a wide array of illnesses. Here we summarize results demonstrating that the New York City (NYC) subway system provides an important microenvironment for metal exposures for NYC commuters and subway workers and also describe an ongoing pilot study of NYC transit workers’ exposure to steel dust. Results from the TEACH (Toxic Exposure Assessment, a Columbia and Harvard) study in 1999 of 41 high-school students strongly suggest that elevated levels of iron, manganese, and chromium in personal air samples were due to exposure to steel dust in the NYC subway. Airborne concentrations of these three metals associated with fine particulate matter were observed to be more than 100 times greater in the subway environment than in home indoor or outdoor settings in NYC. While there are currently no known health effects at the airborne levels observed in the subway system, the primary aim of the ongoing pilot study is to ascertain whether the levels of these metals in the subway air affect concentrations of these metals or related metabolites in the blood or urine of exposed transit workers, who due to their job activities could plausibly have appreciably higher exposures than typical commuters. The study design involves recruitment of 40 transit workers representing a large range in expected exposures to steel dust, the collection of personal air samples of fine particulate matter, and the collection of blood and urine samples from each monitored transit worker.
Bioavailability; Chromium; Dose-response; Hazardous air pollutants; Iron; Manganese; Metro; Steel dust; Subway; transit workers; Underground railway
The purpose of this study was to estimate exposure of pregnant women in Poland to fine particulate matter [≤2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5)] and to assess its effect on the birth outcomes. The cohort consisted of 362 pregnant women who gave birth between 34 and 43 weeks of gestation. The enrollment included only nonsmoking women with singleton pregnancies, 18–35 years of age, who were free from chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. PM2.5 was measured by personal air monitoring over 48 hr during the second trimester of pregnancy. All assessed birth effects were adjusted in multiple linear regression models for potential confounding factors such as the size of mother (maternal height, prepregnancy weight), parity, sex of child, gestational age, season of birth, and self-reported environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The regression model explained 35% of the variability in birth weight (β = −200.8, p = 0.03), and both regression coefficients for PM2.5 and birth length (β = −1.44, p = 0.01) and head circumference (HC; β = −0.73, p = 0.02) were significant as well. In all regression models, the effect of ETS was insignificant. Predicted reduction in birth weight at an increase of exposure from 10 to 50 μg/m3 was 140.3 g. The corresponding predicted reduction of birth length would be 1.0 cm, and of HC, 0.5 cm. The study provides new and convincing epidemiologic evidence that high personal exposure to fine particles is associated with adverse effects on the developing fetus. These results indicate the need to reduce ambient fine particulate concentrations. However, further research should establish possible biologic mechanisms explaining the observed relationship.
air pollutants; cohort study; fetal growth; pregnancy; prenatal exposure
Methodological limitations make it difficult to quantify the public health benefits of energy efficiency programs. To address this issue, we developed a risk-based model to estimate the health benefits associated with marginal energy usage reductions and applied the model to a hypothetical case study of insulation retrofits in single-family homes in the United States.
We modeled energy savings with a regression model that extrapolated findings from an energy simulation program. Reductions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions and particle precursors (SO2 and NOx) were quantified using fuel-specific emission factors and marginal electricity analyses. Estimates of population exposure per unit emissions, varying by location and source type, were extrapolated from past dispersion model runs. Concentration-response functions for morbidity and mortality from PM2.5 were derived from the epidemiological literature, and economic values were assigned to health outcomes based on willingness to pay studies.
In total, the insulation retrofits would save 800 TBTU (8 × 1014 British Thermal Units) per year across 46 million homes, resulting in 3,100 fewer tons of PM2.5, 100,000 fewer tons of NOx, and 190,000 fewer tons of SO2 per year. These emission reductions are associated with outcomes including 240 fewer deaths, 6,500 fewer asthma attacks, and 110,000 fewer restricted activity days per year. At a state level, the health benefits per unit energy savings vary by an order of magnitude, illustrating that multiple factors (including population patterns and energy sources) influence health benefit estimates. The health benefits correspond to $1.3 billion per year in externalities averted, compared with $5.9 billion per year in economic savings.
In spite of significant uncertainties related to the interpretation of PM2.5 health effects and other dimensions of the model, our analysis demonstrates that a risk-based methodology is viable for national-level energy efficiency programs.