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Children's Environmental Health Center - University of Southern California/UCLA (2003-2010)

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Childrens Environmental Health Center - USC/UCLA

Center Director: Frank Gilliland

Project 1: Urban Air Pollution and Persistent Early Life Asthma

Project 2: Pollution-Enhanced Allergic Inflammation and Phase II Enzymes

Project 3: Air Pollution, Exhaled Breath Markers and Asthma in Susceptible Children


University of Southern California and University of California logo The Children's Environmental Health Center (CEHC) was established in 1998 to investigate effects of the environment on children's respiratory health, with a focus on asthma and airway disease. Researchers seek to identify the effects of ambient air pollution on children's respiratory health and understand not only what makes some children susceptible, but the mechanisms behind air pollution's influence. The Center then ties to translate research findings to elevate environmental health effects into an essential element for decision-making in urban planning and economic development in southern California.

Environmental Exposures and Health Outcomes

Primary Environmental Exposures: Air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), ozone, environmental tobacco smoke, home allergens
Primary Health Outcomes: Prevalent and incident asthma, allergic airway disease, lung function growth, exhaled nitric oxide

Research Projects

Project 1: Urban Air Pollution and Persistent Early Life Asthma
This project looks at the idea that early onset asthma (in the first 5 years of life) is strongly associated with early life traffic within 100 m of the child's home. Being close to the pollutants from vehicle exhaust while young increases the chances of children getting asthma, and the risk gets higher the closer to major traffic they live. The study also examines how genetic and other biological markers can be used to determine various risk levels of asthma in children.

Project 2: Pollution-Enhanced Allergic Inflammation and Phase II Enzymes
The third project looks deeper into the mechanics of asthma as induced by air pollution, including the differences between adult and childhood asthma onset. It also looks at the body's immune response to and possible ways both medicinal and lifestyle to limit or avoid the negative effects of air pollution on breathing as well as test for susceptibility

Project 3: Air Pollution, Exhaled Breath Markers and Asthma in Susceptible Children
The second project used a biological model to look at how air pollution can cause inflamed airways and lead to chromic breathing problems in children. The project especially looks at exhaled breath, measuring different chemicals with certain of them tagged as an indicator for higher asthma probability. So far there is evidence that particulate matter in the air produces inflammation and oxidative/nitrosative stress in the airways and provides evidence that airway inflammation/nitrosative stress contributes to asthma and lung developmental problems.

Community Partners

Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer - Long Beach, California
Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer - Riverside, California

The Community Outreach and Translation Core (COTC) of the USC/UCLA Children's Center serves as a bridge between the Center investigators and members of the local community who are concerned about the impacts of air pollution on children's respiratory health.

The COTC actively participates in the Steering Committee for the Center's CBPR Project. In addition, the COTC plays an important role in disseminating the Center's scientific research findings to the public and to policy makers. With the Center's two key community partners, the COTC director Andrea Hricko and outreach staff, along with Center investigators Rob McConnell and Ed Avol, have also nurtured teams of volunteers who attend training sessions and then conduct community assessments of environmental health problems. The teams, called Neighborhood Assessment or "A" Teams, decided to document the volume of traffic (and resultant air pollution) in certain communities frequented by trucks moving containers to and from the local marine ports. The "A" Team members were trained in advanced traffic counting techniques and in ultrafine particle counting techniques and then assessed identified problem areas in their communities. Some of the neighborhood assessment reports identifying high truck volumes as a percentage of total traffic, coupled with ultrafine particle measurements, have been presented to policy makers. The Neighborhood Assessment Team work is continuing, bolstered by a private foundation grant allowing expansion of the number of trained team members. All "A" Team members are bilingual community residents who receive stipends for their neighborhood assessment activities.


Publications: (2003 - 2010)
Publications: 1998 - 2003

Centers Funded By:
Centers Funded by Epa and NIEHS

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