2004 Progress Report: Urban Air Pollution and Persistent Early Life Asthma

EPA Grant Number: R831861C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R831861
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: USC Center for Children’s Environmental Health
Center Director: Gilliland, Frank D.
Title: Urban Air Pollution and Persistent Early Life Asthma
Investigators: Gilliland, Frank D.
Institution: University of Southern California
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: November 1, 2003 through October 31, 2008 (Extended to October 31, 2010)
Project Period Covered by this Report: November 1, 2003 through October 31, 2004
RFA: Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health Effects , Health


The objective of this community-based participatory research project is to evaluate the relationship between early life asthma and traffic-related air pollution.  We propose to examine this question in a case-control study of asthma persisting to school entry, but with onset earlier in life, in children resident in the same home since before age 2.  We also hypothesize that susceptibility to ambient air pollution will vary based on genotype for GSTM1, GSTP1, NQO1, HO-1, and TNFα, genes involved in the biologic response to oxidant air pollutants.  Lifetime exposure will be assessed by calibrating home measurements to the extensive historical exposure assessment from a monitor in each community, which operates continuously during the lifetime of participants.  Community participation in promoting the study to participants and in data collection and interpretation will enhance both the quality of Center research and the environmental action plans for families of children with asthma in ongoing projects of the community partners.  A steering committee representing university and community research partners and policy makers will work closely with the Community Outreach and Translation Core (COTC) to provide the scientific basis necessary for developing policy for the more widespread protection of children from the effects of air pollution.  

The specific objectives of this research project are to:  (1) identify the population for the proposed case-control study; (2) collect information from parents of participants to assess asthma, activity patterns, and risk factors for asthma, using a structured telephone interview, which also will be administered by Community Study Liaisons; (3) assess the relationship between residential exposure to ambient traffic-related air pollutants and asthma among cases and controls, using information from the Exposure Assessment and Modeling Core; (4) develop tools for assessment of traffic within 100 m of homes with COTC Neighborhood Assessment Teams composed of community volunteers selected by community research partners; (5) genotype cases and controls for polymorphisms in GSTM1, GSTP1, HO-1, NQO1, and TNFα and assess how these polymorphisms modify the relationship between air pollutants and asthma; (6) assess the burden of asthma-related disease attributable to air pollution in all children living in two communities represented by the community partners, using results from this study and from existing literature; (7) develop a series of community forums with the COTC to discuss the public health burden of air pollution for asthma; (8) integrate new information on air pollution into the environmental action plans developed with families of children with asthma by all community health workers working in service programs of community partners; (9) foster discussion among partners through an active steering committee and through presentation of results at meetings of partner organizations; and (10) participate with the COTC in seminars, community forums, and in the critique of policy initiatives by providing the best scientific evidence available on air pollution and childhood asthma.

Progress Summary:

We have identified the population for study, and we have completed preliminary evaluation of modeled exposure to traffic-related pollutants in the entire source population.  Residence since age 2 within 75 m of a large urban road is associated with a 75 percent increase in the risk of asthma, and a manuscript is in preparation.  Recruitment for the case-control study and the first round of home air pollution sampling is almost complete in a pilot study community (Long Beach), where we have gained valuable experience in methods for assuring adequate participation rates and optimal home air pollution sampling strategies in the other study communities.  The steering committee, including all participant organizations in the study, has met monthly to plan and review progress.  A successful workshop of community health promoters from organizations in southern California was a highlight of the year, and a series of additional workshops to engage this valuable community resource in the study is planned.


The preliminary results from modeled exposure data suggest that there is an appreciable public health risk associated with residence near a large road.  These results will be refined with the planned measurements of air pollution in the case-control study.

Future Activities:

We plan to complete recruitment and the first waves of home air pollution sampling in the coming year, followed by questionnaire administration and buccal cell collection for analysis of polymorphisms.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 145 publications for this subproject

Supplemental Keywords:

asthma, children, susceptibility, community, children’s health, health effects, risk assessment, airway disease, allergen, asthma, childhood respiratory disease, children’s environmental health, community-based intervention, outreach and education, respiratory problems,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, HUMAN HEALTH, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, mobile sources, Biochemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Health Effects, Children's Health, Risk Assessment, asthma, engine exhaust, traffic, community-based intervention, airway disease, respiratory problems, automotive emissions, Human Health Risk Assessment, automotive exhaust, childhood respiratory disease, susceptibility, ambient particle pollution, children's environmental health, outreach and education

Relevant Websites:

http://www.usc.edu/schools/medicine/research/centers_programs/cehc/ Exit
http://www.usc.edu/schools/medicine/departments/preventive_medicine/divisions/occupational/occ_environmental/cehc/index.html Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R831861    USC Center for Children’s Environmental Health

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R831861C001 Urban Air Pollution and Persistent Early Life Asthma
    R831861C002 Pollution-Enhanced Allergic Inflammation and Phase II Enzymes
    R831861C003 Air Pollution, Exhaled Breath Markers, and Asthma in Susceptible Children