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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2010 Jul;20(5):446-56. doi: 10.1038/jes.2009.34. Epub 2009 Oct 28.

Personal exposures to traffic-related particle pollution among children with asthma in the South Bronx, NY.

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Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Tuxedo, New York, USA.


Personal exposures to fine particulate matter air pollution (PM(2.5)), and to its traffic-related fraction, were investigated in a group of urban children with asthma. The relationships of personal and outdoor school-site measurements of PM(2.5) and elemental carbon (EC) were characterized for a total of 40 fifth-grade children. These students, from four South Bronx, NY schools, each carried air pollution monitoring equipment with them for 24 h per day for approximately 1 month. Daily EC concentrations were estimated using locally calibrated reflectance of the PM(2.5) samples. Personal EC concentration was more closely related to outdoor school-site EC (median subject-specific: r=0.64) than was personal PM(2.5) to school-site PM(2.5) concentration (median subject-specific: r=0.33). Regression models also showed a stronger, more robust association of school site with personal measurements for EC than those for PM(2.5). High traffic pollution exposure was found to coincide with the weekday early morning rush hour, with higher personal exposures for participants living closer to a highway (<500 ft). A significant linear relationship of home distance from a highway with personal EC pollution exposure was also found (up to 1000 ft). This supports the assumptions by previous epidemiological studies using distance from a highway as an index of traffic PM exposure. These results are also consistent with the assumption that traffic, and especially smoke emitted from diesel vehicles, is a significant contributor to personal PM exposure levels in children living in urban areas such as the South Bronx, NY.

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