Project at a Glance

Title: Epidemiologic investigation to identify chronic effects of ambient air pollutants in Southern California.

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Peters, John M.

Contractor: University of Southern California

Contract Number: 94-331

Research Program Area: Health & Exposure

Topic Areas: Health Effects of Air Pollution, Vulnerable Populations


A prospective study of about 6000 children living in 12 Southern California communities of varying ambient air pollution profiles was initiated in 1993. The primary purpose of the study was to determine whether air pollution causes chronic adverse respiratory health effects. Particulate matter (hourly PM10, two-week-integrated PM2.5, and several constituents including elemental and organic carbon, metals, and ions), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and acid vapor (primarily nitric) were measured in each community during the study period. Health outcomes assessed were annual pulmonary function tests (maximal spirometry), annual questionnaires on respiratory conditions and symptoms, and school absence monitoring. Demographics, housing characteristics, time-activity patterns and exposure to tobacco smoke were also assessed annually by written questionnaire. Study 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. We conclude that current levels of ambient air pollution in Southern California are associated with clinically important chronic health effects that have substantial health and economic impacts. These findings indicate the need for cleaner air for our children to breathe.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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