Community Stressors and Susceptibility to Air Pollution in Urban Asthma

EPA Grant Number: R834576
Title: Community Stressors and Susceptibility to Air Pollution in Urban Asthma
Investigators: Clougherty, Jane E. , Abbatangelo-Gray, Jodie , Fromewick, Jill , Ito, Kazuhiko , Kubzansky, Laura D. , Shepard, Peggy , Spengler, John D.
Current Investigators: Clougherty, Jane E. , Carr Shmool, Jessie L , Dotson-Newman, Ogonnaya , Ito, Kazuhiko , Kubzansky, Laura D. , Shepard, Peggy , Spengler, John D.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health , New York University , West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT for Environmental Justice)
EPA Project Officer: Breville, Maggie
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through February 28, 2015 (Extended to February 28, 2016)
Project Amount: $1,250,000
RFA: Understanding the Role of Nonchemical Stressors and Developing Analytic Methods for Cumulative Risk Assessments (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Human Health Risk Assessment , Health


Our overall goal is to understand relative spatial distributions in key community level psychosocial stressors and air pollution exposures across New York City, and to examine their separate and synergistic effects on childhood asthma exacerbation.


We propose to build on the air pollution surfaces created by the NYC Community Air Survey (NYCCAS), one of the largest studies of year-round intra-urban variability in multiple air pollutants. We will implement a community process of focus groups to identify key stressors in diverse NYC neighborhoods, and will validate community-level stressors against individual stress measures through a representative survey of the adult non-institutionalized population of NYC. We will then use existing census and city data to identify appropriate indicators of validated community stressors, such as poverty or violent crime, and compare their relative spatial distributions with traffic-related air pollution exposure distributions. Finally, we will explore the independent and synergistic effects of community stressors and traffic-related air pollution on asthma exacerbation among children aged 5-17, using variants of spatial poisson regression and multi-level time-series modeling using syndromic surveillance and hospitalizations databases, including data from 94% of emergency department (ED) visits and all hospitalizations (via SPARCS), from 2002 to the present.

Expected Results:

Given our large sample size within and across communities, our unique data on year-round fine-scale variability in multiple air pollutants, and our strong experience in community –based environmental health education and outreach, we believe that our study will provide critical data towards better understanding differential susceptibility to air pollution by social stressors. The project will provide a valuable template for examining combined effects of social and physical exposures on health, to be applied to other health outcomes. WE ACT’s commitment to community knowledge and empowerment ensures the timely dissemination of results in a useful, meaningful manner to NYC communities.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 51 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Community stressors, traffic-related air pollution, childhood asthma, differential susceptibility;

Progress and Final Reports:

2011 Progress Report
2012 Progress Report
2013 Progress Report
2014 Progress Report
Final Report