2003 Progress Report: Air Toxics Exposures Among Teenagers in New York City and Los Angeles—A Columbia-Harvard Study (TEACH)

EPA Grant Number: R828678C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R824834
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC)
Center Director: Beskid, Craig
Title: Air Toxics Exposures Among Teenagers in New York City and Los Angeles—A Columbia-Harvard Study (TEACH)
Investigators: Kinney, Patrick L. , Pederson, Dee C. , Spengler, John D. , Ross, James M. , Johnson, Dave , Aggarwal, Maneesha , Ramstrom, Sonja , Chillrud, Steven
Current Investigators: Kinney, Patrick L. , Spengler, John D. , Ramstrom, Sonja , Chillrud, Steven
Institution: Columbia University in the City of New York , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Current Institution: Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through January 31, 2005
Project Period Covered by this Report: January 1, 2002 through January 31, 2003
RFA: Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC) (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Targeted Research


The purpose of this research effort is to study the personal exposures to urban air toxics experienced by a group of students living in New York City (NYC) and in Los Angeles (LA). The study would provide information on the roles of seasons and days of the week, different meteorological conditions, and daily activities on exposures to selected volatile organic compounds (VOC), aldehydes, and metals on particles (< 2.5 μ) present in the environment. Soluble fractions of selected metals were also assayed for correlations with source measurements. Exposure measurements were made in indoor, outdoor and personal environments. The investigators related these exposures to the apportionment of air toxics among area, point, and mobile sources, as well as non-anthropogenic sources.

Progress Summary:

The study was funded in response to Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC) RFA 96-01. The project was started in December 1997 (under Grant No. R824834C001). The Toxic Exposure Assessment: A Columbia-Harvard (TEACH) study is in compliance with the Columbia University’s Institutional Review Board guidelines and governmental human consent regulations. The project is also in compliance with appropriate quality control and quality assurance procedures as per NUATRC and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.

The study results were to be presented in two reports, one on the NYC data set and the other on the LA data set. The Draft Final NUATRC Research Report on the NYC dataset was submitted to the NUATRC in May 2002. The report was reviewed by a team of external peer-reviewers and the Center’s Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). The Revised Final NUATRC Research Report was received by the Center on August 19, 2003, and was reviewed by the SAP. The Revised Final Report is available on the EPA National Center for Environmental Research Web Site.

The NYC report includes the following data analysis themes: (1) urban influence (city versus upwind source attribution); (2) influence of ambient concentrations on personal exposures to PM2.5 and its components; (3) cancer risk assessment for VOCs; (4) indoor/outdoor ratios as a function of air exchange; (5) indoor source strength estimates for VOCs; (6) indoor black carbon as a tracer of urban PM2.5 of ambient origin; and (7) elevated metal exposures in subways.

To determine the spatial and temporal influences on ambient VOC concentrations in NYC, the researchers attempted to identify common factors or sources, determine which compounds have the greatest urban contribution, apportion the spatial and temporal variability in concentrations, and examine the seasonal and traffic volume effects. Two main groups of compounds—mobile source related and secondarily formed—were identified. The mobile source related compounds tended to have greater spatial variability and traffic volume effects. The secondarily formed compounds tended to have greater temporal variability and a large seasonal effect.

Urban fixed site medians for the mobile source related ‘BTEX+ (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene)’ compounds were 2-3 times higher than the upwind fixed site during the winter sampling. Similar patterns were seen for summer sampling except for benzene. Acetaldehyde and formaldehyde were also elevated in summer at both fixed sites, but the differences between upwind and urban sites were more modest. The chlorinated compounds showed less consistent ambient patterns overall.

Comparison of home outdoor concentrations with fixed site data suggests that, for the BTEX+ compounds, the home outdoor medians were consistently higher, suggesting the influence of local traffic proximal to home locations.

Indoor and personal median concentrations of mobile source VOCs were similar in the winter. In the summer, personal values were 25 percent to 100 percent higher than indoor median values. Personal and indoor aldehyde levels were 6 times higher than ambient levels in winter and 2.5 to 6 times higher in the summer. In the summer, personal exposures were higher than indoors, suggesting additional exposures.

The VOCs exhibited three distinct patterns: one set including carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane were clearly of outdoor origin; another set including chloroform, methylene chloride, styrene, tetrachloroethylene, and 1,4 dichlorobenzene gave clear evidence of indoor sources; and finally, 1,3-butadiene was difficult to interpret.

For most of the particle elements, indoor and personal values did not indicate substantial enrichment over outdoor levels. Only a few elements, including cadmium, potassium and tin in winter, and chromium and tin in summer, appeared to have indoor sources. The analysis suggests that both sulfate and black carbon are pollutants of largely outdoor origin in NYC. Subway sampling for metal concentrations and correlation with personal exposure levels suggested that for Fe, Mn, and Cr, the NYC subway system appears to be a very important micro-environment.

Preliminary results for carcinogenic risk assessment indicated that most of the VOCs and three metals—chromium, nickel, and arsenic—had median cancer risks that exceeded 10-6, which is the EPA benchmark for cancer risk.

Analyses of the LA data set are complete and the Draft Final Report is expected in March 2004. In order to complete scientific editing of the NYC report and review of LA data, the study has been granted a no-cost extension through October 2004.

Future Activities:

Publication of the NYC Report.

  • Submission of LA Draft Final Report and peer-review of the report.
  • Development of a relational database.
  • Analysis of archived filters.
  • Extension of the indoor/outdoor work to the particle elements.
  • Modeling of personal exposure for VOCs and elements based on time/activity factors.
  • Quantitative assessment of the influence of traffic.
  • Expansion of risk assessment to other toxics.
  • Scientific editing of the Revised Final Report.
  • Publication of the Revised Final Report.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 15 publications 5 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Other center views: All 144 publications 62 publications in selected types All 53 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Kinney PL, Chillrud SN, Ramstrom S, Ross J, Spengler JD. Exposures to multiple air toxics in New York City. Environmental Health Perspectives 2002;110(Suppl 4):539-546. R828678C001 (2002)
R828678C001 (2003)
R828678C001 (2004)
R828678C001 (2006)
R828678C001 (2007)
R828678C001 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, Air, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, HUMAN HEALTH, particulate matter, air toxics, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Exposure, Chemicals, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Physical Processes, Children's Health, genetic susceptability, Atmospheric Sciences, Environmental Policy, Biology, copollutant exposures, health effects, sensitive populations, urban air, atmospheric particulate matter, aldehydes, fine particles, PM 2.5, long term exposure, inhaled pollutants, acute lung injury, acute cardiovascular effects, airway disease, VOCs, air pollution, children, susceptible subpopulations, cardiac arrest, New York, cardiopulmonary response, chronic health effects, human exposure, Los Angeles, lung inflammation, particulate exposure, assessment of exposure, Acute health effects, indoor air, inhaled, human susceptibility, children's environmental health, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), acute exposure, air quality, human health risk, toxics, environmental hazard exposures, air contaminant exposure, co-pollutants

    Relevant Websites:

    http://www.sph.uth.tmc.edu/mleland Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 1999
  • 2000
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R824834    Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R824834C001 Air Toxics Exposures Among Teenagers in New York City and Los Angeles - A Columbia-Harvard Study (TEACH)
    R824834C002 Cardiopulmonary Response to Particulate Exposure
    R824834C003 VOC Exposure in an Industry Impacted Community
    R824834C004 A Study of Personal Exposure to Air Toxics Among a Subset of the Residential U.S. Population (VOC Project)
    R824834C005 Methods Development Project for a Study of Personal Exposures to Toxic Air Pollutants
    R824834C006 Relationship Between Indoor, Outdoor and Personal Air (RIOPA)
    R824834C007 Development of the "Leland Legacy" Air Sampling Pump
    R824834C008 Source Apportionment of Indoor Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Urban Residences
    R824834C009 Development of a Personal Cascade Impactor Sampler (PCIS)
    R824834C010 Testing the Metals Hypothesis in Spokane
    R828678C001 Air Toxics Exposures Among Teenagers in New York City and Los Angeles—A Columbia-Harvard Study (TEACH)
    R828678C002 Cardiopulmonary Effects of Metal-Containing Particulate Exposure
    R828678C003 VOC Exposure in an Industry Impacted Community
    R828678C004 A Study of Personal Exposure to Air Toxics Among a Subset of the Residential U.S. Population (VOC Project)
    R828678C005 Oxygenated Urban Air Toxics and Asthma Variability in Middle School Children: A Panel Study (ATAC–Air Toxics and Asthma in Children)
    R828678C006 Relationship between Indoor, Outdoor and Personal Air (RIOPA). Part II: Analyses of Concentrations of Particulate Matter Species
    R828678C007 Development of the “Leland Legacy” Air Sampling Pump
    R828678C008 Source Apportionment of Indoor PAHs in Urban Residences 98-03B
    R828678C009 Development of a Personal Cascade Impactor Sampler (PCIS)
    R828678C010 Testing the Metals Hypothesis in Spokane
    R828678C011 A Pilot Geospatial Analysis of Exposure to Air Pollutants (with Special Attention to Air Toxics) and Hospital Admissions in Harris County, Texas
    R828678C012 Impact of Exposure to Urban Air Toxics on Asthma Utilization for the Pediatric Medicaid Population in Dearborn, Michigan
    R828678C013 Field Validation of the Sioutas Sampler and Leland Legacy Pump – Joint Project with EPA’s Environmental Technology Validation Program (ETV)
    R828678C014 Performance Evaluation of the 3M Charcoal Vapor Monitor for Monitor Low Ambient Concentrations of VOCs
    R828678C015 RIOPA Database Development
    R828678C016 Contributions of Outdoor PM Sources to Indoor and Personal Exposures: Analysis of PM Species Concentrations” Focused on the PM Speciation and Apportioning of Sources
    R828678C017 The Short and Long-Term Respiratory Effects of Exposure to PAHs from Traffic in a Cohort of Asthmatic Children