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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2018 Aug;46(6):1283-1293. doi: 10.1007/s10802-017-0367-5.

Longitudinal Analysis of Particulate Air Pollutants and Adolescent Delinquent Behavior in Southern California.

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Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Sonoma Technology, Inc., Petaluma, CA, USA.
Irvine College of Health Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.


Animal experiments and cross-sectional human studies have linked particulate matter (PM) with increased behavioral problems. We conducted a longitudinal study to examine whether the trajectories of delinquent behavior are affected by PM2.5 (PM with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm) exposures before and during adolescence. We used the parent-reported Child Behavior Checklist at age 9-18 with repeated measures every ~2-3 years (up to 4 behavioral assessments) on 682 children from the Risk Factors for Antisocial Behavior Study conducted in a multi-ethnic cohort of twins born in 1990-1995. Based on prospectively-collected residential addresses and a spatiotemporal model of ambient air concentrations in Southern California, monthly PM2.5 estimates were aggregated to represent long-term (1-, 2-, 3-year average) exposures preceding baseline and cumulative average exposure until the last assessment. Multilevel mixed-effects models were used to examine the association between PM2.5 exposure and individual trajectories of delinquent behavior, adjusting for within-family/within-individual correlations and potential confounders. We also examined whether psychosocial factors modified this association. The results sμggest that PM2.5 exposure at baseline and cumulative exposure during follow-up was significantly associated (p < 0.05) with increased delinquent behavior. The estimated effect sizes (per interquartile increase of PM2.5 by 3.12-5.18 μg/m3) were equivalent to the difference in delinquency scores between adolescents who are 3.5-4 years apart in age. The adverse effect was stronger in families with unfavorable parent-to-child relationships, increased parental stress or maternal depressive symptoms. Overall, these findings sμggest long-term PM2.5 exposure may increase delinquent behavior of urban-dwelling adolescents, with the resulting neurotoxic effect aggravated by psychosocial adversities.


Adolescence; Ambient fine particles; Delinquency; Environmental exposures; Epidemiologic studies; Longitudinal studies

[Available on 2019-08-01]

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