2005 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 - Mailman School of Public Health , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health , Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
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, 2004 through January 31, 2005
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 objective of this research project 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 μm) 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 nonanthropogenic sources.

Progress Summary:

The study was funded in response to the National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC) Request for Application 96-01. The project commenced in December 1997 and was scheduled to be completed in December 2000. 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 guidelines. The study results are presented in two reports, one on the NYC data set and the other on the LA data set.

The New York City TEACH Study

  • The Final Report on the NYC data set has been published as the “NUATRC Report Number 3 2005 Toxic Exposure Assessment: A Columbia-Harvard (TEACH) Study (The New York City Report).”

The Los Angeles TEACH Study

  • This report presents the objectives, methods, and results of the LA phase of the TEACH study. In addition, this report compares results for LA with those obtained in the NYC phase of the TEACH Study.
  • A draft final report was received on December 14, 2004. The report was reviewed by external peer-review.
  • To complete the revisions and scientific editing for the report, the study was granted a no-cost extension through June 2005.
  • The comments of the external reviewers and the Scientific Advisory Panel have been communicated to Dr. Kinney. The NUATRC is waiting for a revised report from Dr. Kinney.
  • Main findings presented in the draft Final Report are as follows.

The specific aims are:

Aim 1. Describe the distributions of air toxics measured on personal, home indoor, home outdoor, and ambient fixed site locations in LA. Compare these data with concentrations measured in NYC.

Approach. Distributions of measured air concentrations are presented for each compound stratified by sample location and season. Results for NYC are presented and compared for selected air toxics.

Aim 2. Distinguish the roles of season and the impact of urban areas on ambient concentrations of air toxics in LA.

Approach. Concentrations of air pollutants were compared across seasons and urban contributions were determined by comparing concentrations between the urban fixed-site and a background site.

Aim 3. Analyze the relationship between home indoor and home outdoor air toxic concentrations in LA and assess source strengths for VOCs indoors.

Approach. Rank pollutants by indoor/outdoor (I/O) ratios. Compare I/O ratios across seasons and across levels of individual home air exchange rates. Distinguish between pollutants for which indoor levels appear to be driven by indoor sources versus those driven by outdoor concentrations. Calculate the source strengths for VOCs driven by indoor sources.

Approach of the Study

The TEACH study monitored personal, home indoor and outdoor, and fixed-site outdoor air toxics concentrations in two groups of high school students, one in NYC and the other in LA. The study provided extensive descriptive data on exposures to a wide range of air pollutants experienced by youth living in the disadvantaged urban cores of America’s two largest cities. The sampling design (see below) enabled the examination of a wide range of factors that may influence personal exposures to urban air toxics, including home air exchange rate, indoor and outdoor sources, and individual activity patterns. In addition, the design captured information on several important sources of variability that may drive personal exposures: variability across days, subjects, seasons, and cities.

A large data set comprised of 17 VOCs, 2 aldehydes, particle mass PM2.5, soot fraction, as well as 29 elements was assembled and quality assured for all the LA samples collected outdoors, indoors, and as personal samples. In addition, home and personal characteristics, air exchange rates, and other variables comprise the analysis data set available for assessing air toxic exposures and subsequent risk.

Key Findings

Subject and Home Characteristics. Air toxics exposure data were for 40 inner city LA youth ranging in age from 13 to 17. Subjects were predominantly Hispanic, lived predominantly in attached or detached single family homes, and lived in neighborhoods with medium to low self-reported motor vehicle traffic. Time-activity patterns were similar to previous surveys of urban youth.

Personal Exposures to Air Toxics. Personal exposures showed the impacts of both indoor and outdoor concentrations, as well as sources that are encountered in unmeasured microenvironments. For pollutants with significant indoor sources, including many of the VOCs, personal exposures showed minimal to moderate relationships to outdoor concentrations. For other pollutants lacking significant indoor sources, including most PM-associated elements and a few VOCs, personal (and indoor) exposures showed strong associations with outdoor levels.

Indoor Air Toxic Concentrations

Indoor VOC levels were generally much higher than outdoors, and thus I/O ratios were above 1.0 for most compounds. However, I/O ratios closer to 1.0 were observed for a few VOCs, including methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) and some of the other benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylene (BTEX) VOCs. I/O ratios tended to be lower in fall than in winter, reflecting increased air exchange during fall compared to winter. Using the indoor and outdoor concentration data, along with air exchange measurements, we estimated indoor source strengths for selected VOCs. Median I/O ratios for PM-associated elements were typically close to or below 1.0, reflecting the role played by outdoor sources in driving indoor levels. For analytes with I/O ratios greater than 1.0, I/O ratios decreased with increasing air exchange. For analytes with I/O ratios less than 1, the ratios consistently increased with increasing air exchange rate. These results were similar to the NYC results.

Outdoor Air Toxic Concentrations

As expected, ambient concentrations of most VOCs were lower than levels measured indoors or on personal samples. Because of the relatively low concentrations measured in ambient air, median outdoor concentrations at the urban fixed site were below the respective limits of detection for several VOCs. Better detection results were obtained for the indoor and personal samples. All median ambient PM2.5 and associated elemental concentrations exceeded limits of detection. A preliminary source apportionment analysis suggested that motor vehicles represented the dominant source of ambient VOC concentrations in both LA and NYC.

Future Activities:

NUATRC is expecting the revised LA report from Dr. Kinney. Following receipt of the report, it will be edited by technical editors and published as a NUATRC report. The target publication date is summer 2006.

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 Chillrud SN, Grass D, Ross JM, Coulibaly D, Slavkovich V, Epstein D, Sax SN, Pederson D, Johnson D, Spengler JD, Kinney PL, Simpson HJ, Brandt-Rauf P. Steel dust in the New York City subway system as a source of manganese, chromium, and iron exposures for transit workers. Journal of Urban Health 2005;82(1):33-42. R828678C001 (2005)
R828678C001 (2006)
R828678C001 (2007)
R828678C001 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    air pollution, urban, monitoring, exposure, methods, indoor air, volatile organic compounds, VOCs, particulate matter, PM, environmental policy, exposure, health risk assessment, physical processes, risk assessments, susceptibility/sensitive population/genetic susceptibility, air toxics, genetic susceptibility, acute health effects, acute cardiovascular effects, acute exposure, acute lung injury, air contaminant exposure, air quality, airborne urban contaminants, airway disease, aldehydes, assessment of exposure, atmospheric particulate matter, cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary response, children, children’s environmental health, chronic health effects, copollutants, copollutant exposures, environmental hazard exposures, fine particles, health effects, human exposure, human health risk, human susceptibility, inhaled pollutants, long-term exposure, lung inflammation, particulate exposure, sensitive populations, susceptible subpopulations, toxics,, 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
  • 2003 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