This page last reviewed June 30, 2011

Health Effects Research

Children's Health
Children's Exposure
Asthma / Respiratory Health
Cardiovascular Health
Indoor Health and Exposure
Particulate Matter (PM) Health Effects
Immune Effects
Community Health
  medical building The Air Resources Board has an active research program to investigate the health  effects associated with air pollution exposure, particularly in citizens that may be more sensitive to air pollution effects, such as children and the elderly. The information on this page contains information on our recent and ongoing air pollution health effects research since the year 2000. You can also view all health-related research projects, ongoing and completed, in our Research Projects database.

The Air Resources Board staff provides monthly updates regarding the latest research findings on Health and Air Pollution. Presentations for past health updates are provided at the following link. Follow this link to view presentations for past health updates .

  Children's Health - [Next Topic]
  Children's Health Study Completed)   The Children's Health Study was a prospective study of about 6,000 children living in 12 Southern California communities with varying ambient air pollution profiles. The primary purpose of the study was to determine whether air pollution causes chronic adverse respiratory health effects. Results indicated that children's lung function growth was adversely affected by air pollution. New cases of asthma and asthma exacerbations were associated with ambient air pollution levels and school absences from acute respiratory illnesses followed rises in ozone levels. 
  F.A.C.E.S.   The Fresno Asthmatic Children's Environment Study (F.A.C.E.S.) project is focused on the effects of particulate matter air pollution, in combination with other ambient air pollutants and bioaerosols, on asthma in young children in Fresno, California.
  Huntington Park Asthma Study (Completed)   This study was focused on the effects of air pollution, particularly air toxics, on twenty-six Hispanic asthmatic school children. The overall goal was to evaluate acute respiratory health effects of volatile organic compounds and other air pollutants in children in a highly industrialized area of Los Angeles flanked by major freeways and trucking routes. The results show that ambient volatile organic compounds, criteria pollutants and organic and elemental carbon were associated with asthma symptoms.
  Traffic and Asthma in Economically Disadvantaged Neighborhoods   Children who live in economically-disadvantaged areas with high traffic density may be particularly susceptible to asthma exacerbation from air pollution exposure. The objective of this study is to examine the associations between traffic and asthma symptoms, provide additional information related to environmental justice issues, and help develop a model for future traffic studies. 
  Refining Estimates for the East Bay Children's Respiratory Health Study   The East Bay Children's Respiratory Health Study collected primary data on the concentrations of traffic-related pollutants and on the health of children attending elementary schools in Alameda County, California. The objective of this study is to refine estimates of residential and school exposure to traffic-related pollutants. Its findings will elucidate associations between traffic and health, provide methodological guidance for future traffic studies, and address issues of environmental justice.

  Children's Exposure - [next topic] - [previous topic]
  Children's School Bus Study (Completed)
Follow-Up: Exhaust Intrusion into School Buses
  The Children's School Bus Exposure Study characterized the range of children's exposures to diesel vehicle-related pollutants and other vehicle pollutants during their commutes to school. Results indicated that for some buses, significantly higher exposures of vehicle-related pollutants occurred during the bus commutes than roadway pollutant concentrations alone would indicate. The results from this study demonstrated the importance of intrusion of the tailpipe exhaust back into the bus cabin.

A follow-up study is being conducted to better understand the phenomenon of bus self-pollution and to investigate whether simple measures such as window and door seal replacement or enhancement might provide a cost-effective and simple way to reduce children's exposures to school bus exhaust.
  Environmental Health Conditions in California's Portable Classrooms (Completed)   The Air Resources and Department of Health Services conducted a comprehensive study of the environmental health conditions in portable (relocatable) and traditional classrooms at several hundred schools throughout California. Numerous problems were found, including inadequate ventilation, high classroom noise levels, poor thermal comfort, high formaldehyde levels, moisture problems, toxic residues in floor dust and inadequate lighting.
  Children's Health Study: Carbon Concentrations (Completed)   This report presents the particulate organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) concentrations measured during the first five years of monitoring in the Children's Health Study. The OC / EC data show seasonal and annual trends as well as spatial trends in carbon particle concentrations across Southern California.
  SMPS and TEOM in the Children's Health Study (Completed)   Scanning Mobility Particle Sizers (SMPS) and a Low Temperature Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) collected ultrafine particle size distribution information and highly accurate hourly PM10 (particulate matter 10/Ám or less in diameter) data for use in the Children's Health Study. This was the first time such data were made available for any urban airshed.

  Asthma / Respiratory Health - [Next Topic] - [Previous Topic]
  Inhaled Fine Particle Effects on Lungs   The objective of this study is to determine how chronic fine particle exposures during the period of rapid lung growth could impact lung development and if any observed deficits become permanent. The investigators will use controlled animal exposures (mice) and a mobile exposure system using the Versatile Aerosol Concentration Enrichment System (VACES) particle concentrator.
  Inflammatory Response to Short-Term Particle Exposure   The goal of this project is to determine how airway and cardiovascular function in healthy and asthmatic humans is altered by short-term exposure to concentrated ambient particulate matter (PM) in controlled exposures. The results from this study will indicate how sensitive individuals respond to short-term exposures to levels of PM encountered in situations such as highly polluted days or in areas of very high traffic.
  Genotype Effect on Ozone-induced Airway Inflammation   Genotypes of the GSTM1 gene may explain the wide range of responsiveness to ozone exposure observed among both healthy and asthmatic people. This study will investigate whether GSTM1 genotype influences airway inflammatory responses of asthmatic subjects exposed to ozone. The results of the study are critical to development of adequately protective ambient air quality standards.
  Effects of Smoke on Airway Function and Inflammation (Completed)   The results of this project suggest that short exposures to very high concentrations of smoke from rice field burning is capable of inducing airway inflammation in healthy individuals and in individuals with asthma or allergic rhinitis.
  Nitrogen Dioxide Effects in Asthmatics (Completed)   The results from this study suggest that most asthmatics do not have a late phase response to inhaled allergen following three-hour exposure to 0.4 ppm nitrogen dioxide (NO2), although some may experience an early phase response. In addition, NO2 exposure did not alter lung function or induce non-allergic airway inflammation.
  Nitric Oxide Effects on Lung Function (Completed)   This literature review concluded that nitric oxide (NO) can be both beneficial and injurious and suggests that ambient concentrations of NO could affect cardiopulmonary regulation, pulmonary inflammation, asthma and other inflammatory lung diseases, host defense, immune responses and platelet function.

  Cardiovascular Health - [Next Topic] - [Previous Topic]
  Cardiovascular Health Effects of In-Vehicle Particle Exposure   The purpose of this study is to investigate possible links between exposures to freeway-related ultrafine and fine particles and cardiovascular effects through controlled, on-road exposures of human volunteer subjects. The results will aid ARB in evaluating the importance of motor vehicle related ultrafine particles on cardiovascular health.
  Cardiovascular Effects of Ozone Exposure   This study will investigate the effect of ozone exposure on heart rate variability, inflammation and coagulability. The results will provide a biological basis for epidemiological findings that this pollutant can induce adverse cardiovascular effects.
  Woodsmoke Effects on Cardiovascular Responses   Woodsmoke, which contains particulate and gaseous pollutants, has been associated with adverse respiratory health effects. This study will investigate biological mechanisms and threshold concentrations for inducing airway inflammation, and increased risk factors for adverse cardiovascular effects, including reduced heart rate variability in adult asthmatics.
  Effects of Inhaled Particles on Cardiovascular Disease   Exposure to levels of particulate matter (PM) found in California has been linked to an increased risk of cellular inflammation and heart disease. The objective of this study is to examine the link between particle-induced inflammation and the development of atherosclerosis in normal and atherosclerosis-prone mice, using both fine and ultrafine PM exposures.
  Air Pollution Exposure Effects and Cardiovascular Disease in Teachers   The objective of this study is to determine the effects of long-term exposure to particulate air pollution and various gaseous pollutants on cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary disease incidence and mortality in a study group of California teachers and whether these effects are related to exposure to traffic emissions. Long-term exposure to traffic also will be studied.

  Indoor Health and Exposure - [Next Topic] - [Previous Topic]
  Ultrafine Particles in Schoolrooms and Homes   This study will identify and improve our understanding of the factors that influence ultrafine particle levels in schoolrooms and homes by characterizing the generation of ultrafines from indoor sources and measuring infiltration from outdoors (heavily traveled roadways).
  Health Impacts of Indoor Particulate Matter   Little is known about the health impacts from particulate matter (PM) from indoor sources. This study seeks to identify and quantify the relative toxicities of particulate matter from indoor sources, including cooking, fireplace wood burning, candle and incense burning, and vacuuming.
  Ozone-Generating Air Cleaner Survey   The investigators will conduct a telephone survey to determine the prevalence and usage patterns of portable indoor air cleaners, especially those that purposely emit ozone, in California households.
  Survey of Ventilation and Characteristics of New Homes
(Phase I - Completed)
  Investigators conducted a mail survey of owner-occupants of new California homes to gather information about their house ventilation practices, indoor air quality, physical characteristics and potential indoor pollutant sources. Results showed inadequate ventilation and some indoor air problems. The results were used to design a Phase II field study.
  Field Study of Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality in New Homes
(Phase II)
  The overall objective of this study is to obtain information on ventilation practices and indoor air quality in new single-family detached homes in California. Results will help determine the adequacy of ventilation in new homes for possible revisions to the state energy efficiency standards, and provide current indoor pollutant concentration data for California residences.
  Cleaning Agents and Indoor Air Chemistry (Completed)   The investigators measured toxic emissions from cleaning products and indoor reactions between emissions and ozone. Some cleaning products emitted measurable indoor concentrations of ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes. When the cleaning products were used in the presence of ozone, a number of pollutants were formed, including formaldehyde, ultrafine particulate matter and hydroxyl radicals.

  Particulate Matter (PM) Health Effects - [Next Topic] - [Previous Topic]
  Ultrafine Particulate Matter and Cardiorespiratory Health in the Elderly   The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is funding a major health study that includes collection of health outcome data from elderly people who reside at sheltered living facilities in Southern California. The objective of this study is to enhance indoor and outdoor air monitoring of ultrafine and fine particles in several Southern California communities and to evaluate biochemical markers of oxidative stress in elderly residents of retirement homes.
  Assessment of PM from Vehicles   This project will determine the physicochemical and toxicological properties of semi-volatile (capable of evaporation) and non-volatile fractions of PM from heavy- and light-duty vehicles operating with and without emissions control technologies. This study will provide data on the relative toxicities of PM from vehicle exhaust and from different automotive and control technologies.
  Aerosol Concentrators and Health Effects (Completed)   A transportable inhalation exposure facility was developed that provides concentrated coarse, fine and ultrafine ambient particulate matter for experimental studies. In vitro and animal studies showed that particles possess oxidative properties that can result in cellular oxidative stress. Also, on a mass basis, these properties are more prevalent in the ultrafine fraction as compared to the large size fractions.
  Particulate Toxicity: Effects in Susceptible Humans (Completed)   This study showed that in asthmatics, particulate carbon and ammonium nitrate exposures caused significant decreases in spirometric pulmonary function (SPF), some changes in airway cell distribution and heart rate variability (HRV) and no changes in cytokine protein or gene expression. However, combined exposure to particles and ozone, in addition to decreases in SPF, produced increases in several inflammatory associated cells, increases in protein and gene expression, and multiple changes in HRV.
  Particulate Toxicity: Respiratory Effects (Completed)   This study's findings in both an animal model of allergic airways disease and human asthmatics suggest the airway epithelium is an important target of particle-induced effects associated with inflammation and the perturbation of proinflammatory cytokines present in the lungs.
  Particulate Toxicity: Respiratory Effects in an Animal Model (Completed)   This study demonstrated changes in blood pressure and heart rate variability consistent with an adverse effect of particulate matter on the heart. Significant changes were seen in an animal model, the senescent (geriatric) rat. Macrophage changes were seen in human subjects.

  Immune Effects - [Next Topic] - [Previous Topic]
  Nitrogen Dioxide Effects on Macrophage Responses (Completed)   Results showed that multi-day exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) do not affect the body's production of macrophage cells nor the cells' ability to recognize invading pathogens and recruit other infection-fighting cells. However, following NO2 exposure, macrophages released more potentially toxic inflammatory chemicals that could cause lung damage.
  Nitrogen Dioxide Effects on Cellular Immunity (Completed)   This study found neutrophil cell increases in response to extended nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposures. Results do not support the findings of other studies in which oxides of nitrogen were observed to cause changes in the immune system.

Community Health - [Previous Topic]
Air Pollution and Environmental Justice Attempts to deal with issues of environmental justice in air quality regulation have been hampered by difficulties in characterizing air quality on a neighborhood scale and identifying neighborhoods that, for socioeconomic reasons, may be especially vulnerable to further burdens.  The project’s overall objective is to recommend a scientifically derived approach for integrating the cumulative impact and risk from air pollution with measures of socioeconomic vulnerability.  The study is using databases provided by both federal and state agencies to identify patterns of disproportionate exposures to particulate matter, ozone, toxics, and health risks, particularly among communities of color and lower-income groups in Southern California and the Bay Area.  The researchers will also specifically examine health end-points connecting data on birth outcomes with monitoring information collected at various periods during pregnancy.
  For further information, please contact Dr. Linda Smith at 916-327-8225