2012 Progress Report: 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. , Spengler, John D. , Kubzansky, Laura D. , Carr Shmool, Jessie L , Fromewick, Jill , Abbatangelo-Gray, Jodie , Ito, Kazuhiko , Dotson-Newman, Ogonnaya , Shepard, Peggy
Current Investigators: Clougherty, Jane E. , Spengler, John D. , Kubzansky, Laura D. , Carr Shmool, Jessie L , Onokpise, Oghenekome U. , Ito, Kazuhiko , Shepard, Peggy
Institution: University of Pittsburgh , West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT for Environmental Justice) , Harvard University , New York University
Current Institution: University of Pittsburgh , Harvard University , New York University School of Medicine , West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT for Environmental Justice)
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through February 28, 2015 (Extended to February 28, 2016)
Project Period Covered by this Report: March 1, 2012 through February 28,2013
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: Human Health


This project aims 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 of childhood asthma exacerbation.

Progress Summary:

Building on Year 1 collection and examination of publicly available indicators of community social stressors (Table 1), we have applied GIS-based methods to identify three spatially distinct suites of stressors in NYC. These factors are not reflective of the socioeconomic gradient, and therefore suggest that using poverty as a blunt proxy for social stress may be misleading, and may inadvertently confound spatially and conceptually distinct exposures. To better understand and validate these statistical analyses, we implemented two methods for assessing perceptions of stressors: (1) community focus groups and (2) a spatially stratified citywide survey of New York City resident adults. We conducted 14 focus groups across NYC’s five boroughs to identify key community social and physical stressors. Using insights from these focus groups, we developed and implemented a systematic city-wide survey for adult NYC residents (n = 1556), to capture individual-level perceived stress, mental health, and asthma outcome data. We added an online component enabling a representative subset (n = 700) of participants to "draw" their neighborhood outline in a GIS interface, to assess the spatial relevance of community-level indicators. We are currently analyzing survey data to understand: (1) the relationships between individual perceptions of stressors (e.g., feeling safe, having knowledge of crimes committed in your neighborhood) and administrative stressor indicators (e.g., felony crime rates), (2) the role of individual and community buffers (e.g., optimism, social capital) in mediating perceived stress, and (3) mental health and asthma outcomes associated with perceived stress.

Future Activities:

Together, this data will enable us to systematically examine the association between community-level stressor indices (e.g., poverty or crime rates) and individual stress experience. In Year 3, we are: (1) working with zip code-level asthma data to begin model building, in anticipation of individual data from the New York State Department of Health, and (2) building spatially and temporally-refine air pollution exposure models, to improve individual short-term exposure assessment. In Year 4, we will build multi-level and spatially-stratified epidemiological models of social stressor and air pollution exposure on child asthma hospitalizations (2002-2012) across New York City.

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

Other project views: All 53 publications 7 publications in selected types All 7 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Shmool JLC, Kubzansky LD, Newman OD, Spengler J, Shepard P, Clougherty JE. Social stressors and air pollution across New York City communities: a spatial approach for assessing correlations among multiple exposures. Environmental Health 2014;13:91. R834576 (2012)
R834576 (2013)
R834576 (2014)
R834576 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Full-text: BioMed Central-Full Text HTML
  • Abstract: BioMed Central-Abstract
  • Other: BioMed Central-PDF
  • Journal Article Shmool JL, Yonas MA, Newman OD, Kubzansky LD, Joseph E, Parks A, Callaway C, Chubb LG, Shepard P, Clougherty JE. Identifying perceived neighborhood stressors across diverse communities in New York City. American Journal of Community Psychology 2015;56(1-2):144-155. R834576 (2012)
    R834576 (2013)
    R834576 (2014)
    R834576 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Community stressors, psychosocial stress, synergistic effects, nonchemical stressors, traffic-related air pollution, childhood asthma exacerbation, differential susceptibility, spatial epidemiology, GIS

    Relevant Websites:

    Jane E. Clougherty Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • Final Report