Diesel exhaust exposure among adolescents in Harlem: A community-driven study

Mary Northridge, Joanne Yankura, Patrick L. Kinney, Regina M. Santella, Peggy Shepard, Ynolde Riojas, Maneesha Aggarwal, Paul Strickland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives. This study sought individual-level data on diesel exhaust exposure and lung function among adolescents in Harlem as part of a community-driven research agenda. Methods. High school students administered in-person surveys to seventh grade students to ascertain information on demographics, asthma history, and self-reported and maternal smoking. Urine samples were assayed for 1-hydroxypyrene (1-HP), a marker of diesel exhaust exposure, and cotinine, a marker of tobacco smoke exposure. Computer-assisted spirometry was used to measure lung function. Results. Three quarters (76%) of the participating students had detectable levels of 1-HP. Three students (13%) had an FEF25-75 of less than or equal to 80% of their predicted measurements, and 4 students (17%) had results between 80% and 90% of the predicted value, all of which are suggestive of possible lung impairment. Conclusions. These data suggest that most adolescents in Harlem are exposed to detectable levels of diesel exhaust, a known exacerbator and possible cause of chronic lung disorders such as asthma. Community-driven research initiatives are important for empowering communities to make needed changes to improve their environments and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1002
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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