2000 Progress Report: Health Effects of HAPs Among Inner Urban School Children

EPA Grant Number: R826789
Title: Health Effects of HAPs Among Inner Urban School Children
Investigators: Greaves, Ian , Adgate, John L. , Church, Timothy , Ramachandran, Gurumurthy , Sexton, Ken
Institution: University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through September 30, 2001 (Extended to September 30, 2003)
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 1999 through September 30, 2000
Project Amount: $633,044
RFA: Urban Air Toxics (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


This study will: (1) determine whether inner urban, poor, minority children attending grades 2-5 in a new "environmentally safe" school have lower rates of respiratory illnesses and better learning outcomes than similar children attending a nearby older school; (2) determine whether biomarkers of exposure and health effects differ among children in the two schools; (3) model the relationships between biomarkers and health outcomes; (4) collect and analyze data on covariates and confounders; and (5) provide baseline data for a cohort who can be followed to see if childhood environmental exposures are associated with health problems in later life. Two null hypotheses will be tested: (1) the new school has no effect on health or learning outcomes among its students; and (2) biomarkers of exposure are unrelated to health or learning outcomes.

Progress Summary:

Students in grades 2-5 and their families from two public schools in south Minneapolis were approached to participate in the study. One school was selected for its recent construction and attention to preventing environmental health problems (Whittier) and the other was a nearby school that had been built in the 1970s (Lyndale). The recruitment strategies and methods used to investigate exposures to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) of these children have been published (see Publications/Presentations). A pilot study was performed from January to June, 1999 during which recruitment strategies were refined and baseline questionnaires were developed and administered. Students from Lyndale and students from Whittier were interviewed, provided blood and urine samples, and underwent lung spirometry testing. Methods for environmental air sampling also were developed and refined during this period.

More detailed studies of 71 children (plus 30 siblings) at Lyndale and 82 children (plus 21 siblings) at Whittier were performed in Fall/Winter 1999, and repeated in Spring, 2000. Recruitment of the larger student numbers occurred in October 1999-January 2000 during which time baseline questionnaires and home visits to assess indoor air quality were also performed. Initial blood and urine samples from these groups were collected in January-February 2000, and spirometry was performed in February-May 2000.

Table 1. Students recruited and tested between November 1999 and February 2000 according to ethnicity and language.

    Lyndale Whittier Total
Language category Ethnicity No. Percent No. Percent No. Percent
Non-English Somali 19 26.8% 21 25.6% 40 26.1%
  Spanish 6 8.5% 40 48.8% 46 30.1%
  Cambodian 8 11.3% 0 0.0% 8 5.2%
  Laotian 4 5.6% 0 0.0% 4 2.6%
English American Indian 2 2.8% 1 1.2% 3 2.0%
  Black 22 31.0% 17 20.7% 39 25.5%
  Hispanic 2 2.8% 0 0.0% 2 1.3%
  White 8 11.3% 3 3.7% 11 7.2%
Total   71 46.4% 82 53.6% 153  

Urine and blood samples were obtained in January-February 2000, and again in April-May 2000. At least one blood test was obtained from 59 students at Lyndale and 70 at Whittier; both urine and blood samples were provided by 58 students at Lyndale and 57 at Whittier. The corresponding rates for at least 1 urine sample was obtained from 66 students at Lyndale and 72 at Whittier; both samples coming from 66 students at Lyndale and 65 at Whittier. Participation rates for blood testing were consistently in the 70-85 percent range, and 80-95 percent range for urine testing. Spirometry tests were performed successfully by more than 85 percent of students recruited at both schools. A followup questionnaire was completed in June-July 2000, by 90 percent of students at Lyndale and 80 percent at Whittier.

Between November 1999 and January 2000, peak flow measurements of lung function were offered on a voluntary basis to children in grades 4 and 5: each student performed several tests three times per day on the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of a single week. Participation involved 100 volunteers who were in grades 4 and 5 at Lyndale and 100 similar students at Whittier. These tests were repeated in May-June, 2000.

Based on the amount of planning that went into the execution of this study, and special issues encountered with the Institutional Review Boards (IRB) and the institutions of our collaborating colleagues, we have published a description of the study population, the research methods, and the IRB and other administrative matters that relate to using school children for health research.

In addition, urine analysis for nicotine metabolites have been examined for the level of association between cotinine (a nicotine metabolite which reflects recent exposure to tobacco smoke) and NNK (a carcinogen in tobacco that is excreted in the urine and reflects more chronic exposures). These analyses are ongoing.

Urine and blood samples have yet to be analyzed for metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorinated hydrocarbons, or pesticides.

Future Activities:

October 2000 through July 2001 will constitute a second year of testing. Questionnaires will be administered in Fall/Winter 2000 and again in Summer 2001. Two sets of blood and urine specimens will be obtained, with timing similar to Year 1. Lung spirometry will be repeated in Spring 2001.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 14 publications 14 publications in selected types All 14 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Hecht SS, Ye M, Carmella SG, Fredrickson A, Adgate JL, Greaves IA, Church TR, Ryan AD, Mongin SJ, Sexton K. Metabolites of a tobacco-specific lung carcinogen in the urine of elementary school-aged children. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2001;10(11):1109-1116. R826789 (2000)
R826789 (2001)
R826789 (2002)
R826789 (Final)
R825813 (2001)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: AACR Journals-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: AACR Journals-Abstract and Full Text HTML
  • Journal Article Sexton K, Greaves IA, Church TR, Adgate JL, Ramachandran G, Tweedie RL, Fredrickson A, Geisser M, Sikorski M, Fischer G, Jones D, Ellringer P. A school-based strategy to assess children's environmental exposures and related health effects in economically disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 2000;10(6 Pt 2):682-694. R826789 (2000)
    R826789 (2001)
    R826789 (2002)
    R826789 (Final)
    R825813 (2000)
    R825813 (2001)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Nature-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: Nature-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    school children, inner urban, low-income, indoor air pollution, heavy metals, hazardous air pollutants, HAPs, volatile organic compounds, VOCs, tobacco smoke, allergies, questionnaires, blood tests, urine tests, lung function, spirometry, asthma, learning, minority groups, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Cambodian, Somali., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, Geographic Area, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, air toxics, Epidemiology, State, VOCs, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Biochemistry, Children's Health, indoor air, genetic susceptability, Ecology and Ecosystems, asthma, urban air, pesticide exposure, monitoring, ambient air quality, atmospheric, risk assessment, sensitive populations, urban air toxics, building related illness, emission inventory, urban monitoring sites, Minnesota, MN, air pollutants, biological sensitivities, infants, inner urban school children, lung, buildings, health risks, urban school children, airway disease, measuring childhood exposure, respiratory problems, ambient air, HAPS, hazardous air pollutants, pesticides, susceptible populations, exposure, Human Health Risk Assessment, air pollution, children, emissions, pulmonary toxicity, urban air pollutants, ethnic groups, assessment of exposure, childhood respiratory disease, children's vulnerablity, inhalation, human exposure, allergic, toxicity, pulmonary, sick building syndrome, urine and blood samples, environmental toxicant, harmful environmental agents, urban air pollution, inhaled, schools, biological markers, indoor air quality, human health, sensitive population, allergen, allergies, disease, Minneapolis-St.Paul Metropolitan area, respiratory, VOC sensitivity, air quality, autoimmunity

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 1999
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report