Diesel Exhaust Exposure Among
Adolescents in West Harlem

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A collaborative project with the Harlem Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Columbia University NIEHS Center. This study intends to examine how air pollution from a bus depot in West Harlem may be adversely affecting the respiratory health of adolescents who attend the intermediate school situated directly across the street. Specifically, data on levels of urinary 1-hydroxpyrene (an individual measure of the internal dose of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure, a component of diesel exhaust), ambient levels of particulates, time activity patterns, pulmonary function, and respiratory and asthma symptoms was collected from seventh grade students at both the "exposed" school and an "unexposed" school from a sociodemographically similar neighborhood in Central Harlem.

Youth in Harlem are exposed to detectable levels of diesel exhaust, a known exacerbator of chronic lung disorders such as asthma. The high prevalence of asthma is consistent with recent surveillance statistics. Moreover, these data suggest that a substantial number of youths who reported a negative history of asthma, may have asymptomatic lung dysfunction of a magnitude that warrants medical evaluation of asthma.

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