The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

EPA Grant Number: R836154
Center: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health
Center Director: Perera, Frederica P.
Title: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health
Investigators: Perera, Frederica P.
Institution: Columbia University in the City of New York
EPA Project Officer: Louie, Nica
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2019
Project Amount: $2,552,708
RFA: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health , Children's Health

Objective:

The ultimate goal is the prevention of serious adverse PAH-related effects on children’s health and development by providing communities, policy-makers, and clinicians with scientific data that will motivate community engagement, strengthen environmental and health policy both locally and nationwide, and ultimately lead to effective interventions in children affected by air pollution.

Specific Aim 1: Provide essential evidence of PAH impacts on these significant public health problems.

Specific Aim 2: Investigate how PAH affects the development of neural systems in the brain.

Specific Aim 3: Inform environmental and public health policy

Specific Aim 4: Suggest new avenues for prevention and early intervention.

Approach:

The overarching hypothesis of the proposed program of research, around which our three research projects are organized, is that prenatal and early childhood exposures to PAH disrupt development of the neural systems that support capacities for self-regulation, and that these PAH-related brain disturbances lead to the emergence or persistence of serious cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and adiposity (hereafter, “CEBA”) problems during adolescence. Preliminary findings suggest that these PAH-related CEBA problems in adolescence will include increased rates of depression, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, physical aggression, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors. The proposed program will: 1) provide essential evidence of PAH impacts on these significant public health problems; 2) shed light on how PAH affects the development of neural systems in the brain; 3) inform environmental and public health policy; and 4) suggest new avenues for prevention and early intervention. Investigators anticipate that, by providing needed scientific data on a highly prevalent environmental exposure, this research program will have wide-reaching implications for public health and, particularly, for the protection of children’s health. This project will leverage strong existing partnerships with community groups, especially West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT), through our Community Outreach and Translation Core (COTC), to inform the community, policy-makers, and the wider public about scientific findings data on PAH and air and children’s health. 

Rationale:

The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) proposes an innovative program which builds directly on prior research findings in a well characterized cohort of inner city children enrolled prenatally and now being followed into adolescence. Repeated waves of assessment prior to age 11 have shown that high prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) is associated with recurrent neurodevelopmental abnormalities, higher rates of obesity, and a failure to increasingly improve the capacity to regulate thought, emotion, and behavior over the course of development. Moreover, preliminary evidence from a brain imaging study in children from this cohort show that early PAH exposure adversely affects the structure of neural systems known to support self-regulatory capacities.

Progress and Final Reports:

2016 Progress Report

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R836154C001 The Impact of PAH Exposure on Adolescent Neurodevelopment: Disruption of Self-Regulatory Processes
R836154C002 The Impact of PAH Exposure on Childhood Growth Trajectories and Visceral Adipose Tissue
R836154C003 An MRI Study of the Effects of Prenatal and Early Childhood PAH Exposure on Brain Maturation and Its Mediating Influences on Adverse Adolescent Outcomes