2019 - 2023
Factors that influence environmental health literacy from returning polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure results
Environmental health literacy (EHL) is an emerging field that combines elements from different disciplines, including health literacy, risk communication, environmental health, communications research, and safety culture. Building on the concept of health literacy, as EHL increases, it is anticipated that informed individuals can take control of their own health and be aware of how their actions may reduce exposure or mitigate risk from environmental hazards. Kylie W Riley, Kimberly Burke, Anabel Cole, Maricela Ureno, Holly M Dixon, Lehyla Calero, Lisa M Bramer, Katrina M Waters, Kim A Anderson, Julie B Herbstman, and Diana Rohlman; International Public Health Journal; September 26, 2023
Heat Waves, wildfires, and other climate related effects on the environment are particularly hard on children's physical and mental health. Aimee Cunnigham, August 3, 2023
Study Finds Most U.S. Children Use Potentially Toxic Makeup Products, Often During Play (Press Release en ESPAÑOL)
Children Can be Exposed to Lead, Asbestos, and Other Toxic Chemicals Through Use of Makeup and Body Products
A study by scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Earthjustice found that most children in the United States use makeup and body products that may contain carcinogens and other toxic chemicals.
Results are published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The study, based on more than 200 surveys, found that 79 percent of parents say their children 12 or younger use makeup and body products marketed to children, like glitter, face paint, and lip gloss.
Prior research has shown that these products often have toxic chemicals, like lead, asbestos, PFAS, phthalates, and formaldehyde in them. Toxic chemicals found in children’s makeup and body products (CMBP), like heavy metals, are especially harmful to infants and children. These chemicals, whether intentionally added or present as contaminants, have been linked to cancer, neurodevelopmental harm, and other serious and irreversible health effects.
Medley, E.A.; Kruchten, K.E.; Spratlen, M.J.; Ureño, M.; Cole, A.; Joglekar, R.; Herbstman, J.B. Usage of Children’s Makeup and Body Products in the United States and Implications for Childhood Environmental Exposures. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20, 2114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20032114
A cap-and-invest strategy to cut transportation-related carbon emissions could provide substantial health benefits to children in New York City, with greater benefits among Black and Hispanic children. The results of the study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health are published in Environmental Research.
Kaitlyn E. Coomes, Jonathan J. Buonocore, Jonathan I. Levy, Calvin Arter, Saravanan Arunachalam, Laura Buckley, Alique Berberian, Jonathan Gunasti, Frederica Perera,
Assessment of the health benefits to children of a transportation climate policy in New York City, Environmental Research, 2022,114165, ISSN 0013-9351,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.114165. Online September 7, 2022
The transition of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus fleet in New York City to cleaner fuels and engines was followed by declines in air pollution, particularly nitrous oxide. The study was led by scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, CCCEH, Columbia Irving Medical Center, and Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. The findings are published in the Journal Of Exposure Science And Environmental Epidemiology.
Gina S. Lovasi1 , Christian A. Treat1,2, Dustin Fry 1✉, Isha Shah3 , Jane E. Clougherty3,4, Alique Berberian3 , Frederica P. Perera3,5 and Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou5, Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-022-00454-5.Online July 20, 2022.
The combustion of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum [oil], and natural gas) is the major source of both air pollution and the greenhouse-gas emissions driving climate change. The fetus, infant, and child are especially vulnerable to exposure to air pollution and climate change, which are already taking a major toll on the physical and mental health of children. Given the frequent co-occurrence of various fossil-fuel exposures, their interactions and cumulative environmental impacts are a growing concern. All children are at risk, but the greatest burden falls on those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Protection of children’s health requires that health professionals understand the multiple harms to children from climate change and air pollution and use available strategies to reduce these harms.
Perera, Frederica Dr.P.H., Ph.D., Nadeau, Kari M.D., Ph.D. Solomon, Caren G., M.D., M.P. H.,Editor, Salas, Renee, N. M.D., M.P.H., Guest Editor 16 June 2022; N Engl J Med 2022; 386:2303-2314; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra2117706,Published online, July 20, 2022.
Prenatal exposure to air pollution is associated with altered brain structure, function, and metabolism in childhood
Prenatal exposure to air pollution disrupts cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development. The brain disturbances associated with prenatal air pollution are largely unknown. In this prospective cohort study, we estimated prenatal exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and then assessed their associations with measures of brain anatomy, tissue microstructure, neurometabolites, and blood flow in 332 youth, 6–14 years old. We then assessed how those brain disturbances were associated with measures of intelligence, ADHD and anxiety symptoms, and socialization.
Bradley S. Peterson, Ravi Bansal, Siddhant Sawardekar, Carlo Nati, Eman R. Elgabalawy, Lori A. Hoepner, Wanda Garcia, Xuejun Hao, Amy Margolis, Frederica Perera, Virginia Rauh; Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry; First published: 14 February 2022 https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13578
Increased Heart Rate Variability Response Among Infants with Reported Rhinorrhea and Watery Eyes: A Pilot Study
Previously, we found that reported infant rhinorrhea and watery eyes without a cold (RWWC) predicted school age exercise-induced wheeze, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations. These findings were independent of allergic sensitization, and we theorized that increased parasympathetic tone underlay the association. We also reported that increased heart-rate variability (HRV) in infants predicted wheeze in 2– 3 year-olds. In a convenience sample of children participating in a birth cohort study, we tested the hypothesis that infants with RWWC would have elevated HRV, indicating increased parasympathetic tone.
Laura A Conrad, Natalie Buchinsky, Luis M Acosta, J David Nugent, Khalil W Savary, Rachel L Miller, Nurdant Emanet, Julie Herbstman, Beatrice Beebe, Michael M Myers, William P Fifer, Matthew S Perzanowski. 9 November 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 1349—1354.
Prenatal environmental tobacco smoke exposure alters children's cognitive control circuitry: A preliminary study
Our findings suggest that maternal ETS exposure during pregnancy has deleterious effects on the structure and function of cognitive control circuitry which in turn affects attentional capacity in school-age children. These findings are consistent with prior findings documenting the effects of active maternal smoking on chidlren's neurodevleoment, pointing to the neurotixicity of nicotine regardless of exposure pathway.
Margolis AE, Pagliaccio D, Ramphal B, Banker S, Thomas L, Robinson M, Honda M, Sussman T, Posner J, Kannan K, Herbstman J, Rauh V, Marsh R. Prenatal environmental tobacco smoke exposure alters children's cognitive controlcircuitry: A preliminary study. Environ Int. 2021 Oct;155:106516. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2021.106516. Epub 2021 May 6. PMID: 33964643; PMCID:PMC8292185.
Telomeres are protective caps on chromosome ends that shorten with each cell division. Telomere length (TL) predicts the onset of cellular senescence and correlates with longevity and age-related disease risk. Previous research suggests that adults display fixed ranking and tracking of TL by age 20 years, supporting the importance of TL at birth and attrition during childhood. However, longitudinal research examining telomere dynamics during early life is sparse. Here, we used monochrome multiplex quantitative polymerase chain reaction to measure relative TL in leukocytes isolated from cord blood and child blood collected at ages 3, 5, 7, and 9 years among 224 minority children enrolled in a New York City-based birth cohort. We also measured maternal TL at delivery in a subset of 197 participants with a biobanked blood sample. TL decreased most rapidly in the first years of life (birth to 3 years), followed by a period of maintenance into the pre-puberty period.
Cowell W, Tang D, Yu J, Guo J, Wang S, Baccarelli AA, Perera F, Herbstman JB. Telomere dynamics across the early life course: Findings from a longitudinalstudy in children. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Jul;129:105270. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105270. Epub 2021 May 14. PMID: 34020264; PMCID: PMC8217283.
Exploring associations between prenatal exposure to multiple endocrine disruptors and birth weight with exposure continuum mapping
Improved understanding of how prenatal exposure to environmental mixtures influences birth weight or other adverse outcomes is essential in protecting child health. We illustrate a novel exposure continuum mapping (ECM) framework that combines the self-organizing map (SOM) algorithm with generalized additive modeling (GAM) in order to integrate spatially-correlated learning into the study mixtures of environmental chemicals. We demonstrate our method using biomarker data on chemical mixtures collected from a diverse mother-child cohort.
Pearce JL, Neelon B, Bloom MS, Buckley JP, Ananth CV, Perera F, Vena J, Hunt K; program collaborators for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes. Exploring associations between prenatal exposure to multiple endocrine disruptors and birth weight with exposure continuum mapping. Environ Res. 2021 Jun 2;200:111386. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111386. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34087191.
Prenatal exposure to air pollution is associated with childhood inhibitory control and adolescent academic achievement (En Español)
Prenatal air pollution exposure is associated with reductions in self-regulation and academic achievement. Self-regulation has been separately linked with academic achievement. Understudied, however, are the contributions of pollution exposure to inhibitory control, a facet of self-regulation, and whether pollution-related inhibitory control deficits are associated with impairment in academic achievement.
Amy E. Margolis, Bruce Ramphal, David Pagliaccio, Sarah Banker, Ena Selmanovic, Lauren Thomas, Pam Factor-Litvak, Frederica Perera, Bradley S. Peterson, Andrew Rundle, Julie Herbstman, Jeff Goldsmith, Virginia Rauh, Prenatal exposure to air pollution is associated with childhood inhibitory control and adolescent academic achievement,Environmental Research, 2021,111570, ISSN 0013-9351, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2021.111570.(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935121008641)
A new research study finds that telomeres shorten most rapidly during early childhood, replicating, for the first time, studies done in animal models.
Telomeres are protective caps on DNA that shorten as we grow older. Now, one of the first studies to examine telomere length (TL) in childhood finds that the initial setting of TL during prenatal development and in the first years of life may determine one’s TL throughout childhood and potentially even into adulthood or older age. The study also finds that TL decreases most rapidly from birth to age 3, followed by a period of maintenance into the pre-puberty period, although it was sometimes seen to lengthen.
Citation: Whitney Cowell, Deliang Tang, Jie Yu, Jia Guo, Shuang Wang, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Frederica Perera, Julie B. Herbstman,
Telomere dynamics across the early life course: Findings from a longitudinal study in children, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 129, 2021, 105270, ISSN 0306-4530, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105270. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030645302100144X)
A methodological pipeline to generate an epigenetic marker of prenatal exposure to air pollution indicators
The field of environmental health has lacked an accessible biomarker to identify newborns at elevated risk as a result of a toxic prenatal exposure, one that is feasible in a small sample of DNA in cord blood or in a bloodspot. Such a biomarker could be used to identify highly exposed newborns at increased risk of adverse outcomes, such as neurodevelopmental problems and other chronic illness, in order to initiate early interventions.
Citation: Ya Wang , Frederica Perera , Jia Guo , Kylie W. Riley , Teresa Durham , Zev Ross , Cande V. Ananth , Andrea Baccarelli , Shuang Wang & Julie B. Herbstman (2021): A methodological pipeline to generate an epigenetic marker of prenatal exposure to air pollution indicators, Epigenetics, DOI: 10.1080/15592294.2021.1872926, 2021 January 21.
Potential health benefits of sustained air quality improvements in New York City: A simulation based on air pollution levels during the COVID-19 shutdown
New York City (NYC) experienced a sharp decline in air pollution during the COVID-19 shutdown period (March 15, 2020 to May 15, 2020)-albeit at high social and economic costs. It provided a unique opportunity to simulate a scenario in which the city-wide air quality improvement during the shutdown were sustained over the five-year period, 2021 through 2025, allowing us to estimate the potential public health benefits to children and adults and their associated economic benefits. We focused on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and modeled potential future health benefits to children and adults. The analysis considered outcomes in children that have not generally been accounted for in clean air benefits assessments, including preterm birth, term low birthweight, infant mortality, child asthma incidence, child asthma hospital admissions and emergency department visits, autism spectrum disorder, as well as adult mortality.
Citation: Perera F, Berberian A, Cooley D, Shenaut E, Olmstead H, Ross Z, Matte T. Potential health benefits of sustained air quality improvements in New York City: A simulation based on air pollution levels during the COVID-19 shutdown. Environ Res. 2021 Feb;193:110555. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110555. Epub 2020 Dec 4. PMID: 33285156.
Although short-duration elevated exposures (peak exposures) to pollutants may trigger adverse acute effects, epidemiological studies to understand their influence on different health effects are hampered by lack of methods for objectively identifying peaks. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes (SHS) in the residential environment can lead to peak exposures. The aim of this study was to explore whether peaks in continuous PM2.5 data can indicate SHS exposure. A total of 41 children (21 with and 20 without SHS exposure based on self-report) from 28 families in New York City (NY, USA) were recruited. Both personal and residential continuous PM2.5 monitoring were performed for five consecutive days using MicroPEM sensors (RTI International, USA).
Citation: Zhang T, Chillrud SN, Yang Q, Pitiranggon M, Ross J, Perera F, Ji J, Spira A, Breysse PN, Rodes CE, Miller R, Yan B. Characterizing peak exposure of secondhand smoke using a real-time PM2.5 monitor. Indoor Air. 2020 Jan;30(1):98-107. doi: 10.1111/ina.12611. Epub 2019 Dec 11. PMID: 31610044; PMCID: PMC7137634.
Prenatal air pollution exposure and neurodevelopment: A review and blueprint for a harmonized approach within ECHO
Air pollution exposure is ubiquitous with demonstrated effects on morbidity and mortality. A growing literature suggests that prenatal air pollution exposure impacts neurodevelopment. We posit that the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program will provide unique opportunities to fill critical knowledge gaps given the wide spatial and temporal variability of ECHO participants.
Citation: Volk HE, Perera F, Braun JM, Kingsley SL, Gray K, Buckley J, Clougherty JE, Croen LA, Eskenazi B, Herting M, Just AC, Kloog I, Margolis A, McClure LA, Miller R, Levine S, Wright R; Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes. Prenatal air pollution exposure and neurodevelopment: A review and blueprint for a harmonized approach within ECHO. Environ Res. 2020 Oct 22:110320. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110320. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33098817.
The associations between prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites, umbilical cord blood mitochondrial DNA copy number, and children's neurobehavioral development
Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) during pregnancy is a risk factor for adverse neurobehavioral development outcomes. Mitochondrial DNA are sensitive to environmental toxicants due to the limited ability of repairing. The change of mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn) might be a biologically mechanism linking PAH exposure and children's neurobehavioral impairment. Our aims are to explore whether PAH metabolites in maternal urine were associated with children's neurobehavioral development at 2 years old and umbilical cord blood mtDNAcn, and whether mtDNAcn was a mediator of PAH-related neurobehavioral development.
Citation: Cao X, a1, Lia J, 1, Chenga L, Denga, Y, Lia Y, Yana Z, Duana L, Yanga, J, Niua Q, Perer F ab, Nie J ab, Tang D b. 2020, April 16.
a Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Shanxi Medical University, Xinjiannan Road 56, Taiyuan, 030001, Shanxi, China
b Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722W. 168th Street, New York, NY, 10032, USA
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is causing substantial morbidity and mortality, straining health care systems, shutting down economies, and closing school districts. While it is a priority to mitigate its immediate impact, we want to call attention to the pandemic's longer-term effect on children's health: COVID-19, via these school closures, may exacerbate the epidemic of childhood obesity and increase disparities in obesity risk.
Citation: Rundle AG, Park Y, Herbstman JB, Kinsey EW, Wang YC. COVID-19 Related School Closings and Risk of Weight Gain Among Children. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Mar 30. doi: 10.1002/oby.22813.
Towards a Fuller Assessment of Benefits to Children's Health of Reducing Air Pollution and Mitigating Climate Change Due to Fossil Fuel Combustion
Fossil fuel combustion by-products, including particulate matter (PM2.5), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), are a significant threat to children's health and equality. Various policies to reduce emissions have been implemented to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change, with sizeable estimated health and economic benefits. However, only a few adverse outcomes in children have been considered, resulting in an undercounting of the benefits to this vulnerable population.
Citation: Shea E, Perera F, Mills D. ; Environmental Research, Elsevier, March 2020
Perinatal phthalates exposure decreases ﬁne-motor functions in 11-year-old girls: Results from weighted Quantile sum regression
Phthalates are a group of high production chemicals, generally used as plasticizers and odor enhancers. Phthalates cross the blood-placenta barrier and are associated with deficits in cognitive functions and behavior problems in offspring. We previously reported sex-specific associations with motor function when phthalates are considered singly. Because exposure to phthalates usually occurs as mixtures, here we assess these associations between a mixture of phthalates and motor function at age 11 years.
A powerful and flexible weighted distance-based method incorporating interactions between DNA methylation and environmental factors on health outcomes
Abstract: Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation plays a crucial role in human health. Studies have demonstrated associations between DNA methylation and environmental factors with evidence also supporting the idea that DNA methylation may modify the risk of environmental factors on health outcomes.
Citation: Wang Y, Qian M, Tang D, Herbstman J, Perera F, Wang S. A powerful and flexible weighted distance-based method incorporating interactions between DNA methylation and environmental factors on health outcomes, Bioinformatics, Volume 36, Issue 3, 1 February 2020, Pages 653–659, https://doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btz630
Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons modifies the effects of early life stress on attention and Thought Problems in late childhood
Abstract: Risk for childhood psychopathology is complex and multifactorial, implicating direct and interacting effects of familial and environmental factors. The role of environmental neurotoxicants in psychiatric risk is of growing concern, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), common in air pollution.
Citation: Pagliaccio D, Herbstman JB, Perera F, Tang D, Goldsmith J, Peterson BS, Rauh V, Margolis AE. Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons modifies the effects of early life stress on attention and Thought Problems in late childhood. J Child Psychology Psychiatry. 2020 Jan 7. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.13189.
Abstract: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were among various persistent organic pollutants suspected to have been released during the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) on 9/11/2001. Evidence suggests that PFAS may have cardiometabolic effects, including alterations in lipid profiles. This study evaluated the association between cord blood PFAS and lipids in a population prenatally exposed to the WTC disaster.
Citation: Miranda J Spratlen, Frederica P Perera, Sally Ann Lederman, Morgan Robinson, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Julie Herbstman, Leonardo Trasande, The Association Between Perfluoroalkyl Substances and Lipids in Cord Blood, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 105, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 43–54, https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgz024
Towards a Fuller Assessment of the Economic Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution From Fossil Fuel Combustion: Per-case Monetary Estimates for Children's Health Outcomes
Impacts on children's health are under-represented in benefits assessments of policies related to ambient air quality and climate change. To complement our previous compilation of concentration-response (C-R) functions for a number of children's health outcomes associated with air pollution, we provide per-case monetary estimates of the same health outcomes.
Citation: Shea E, Perera F, Mills D. Towards a fuller assessment of the economic benefits of reducing air pollution from fossil fuel combustion: Per-case monetary estimates for children's health outcomes. Environ Res. 2020;182:109019. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2019.109019
Prepregnancy obesity is associated with lower psychomotor development scores in boys at age 3 in a low-income, minority birth cohort
Whether maternal obesity and gestational weight gain (GWG) are associated with early-childhood development in low-income, urban, minority populations, and whether effects differ by child sex remain unknown. This study examined the impact of prepregnancy BMI and GWG on early childhood neurodevelopment in the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Mothers and Newborns study. ...We found that prepregnancy obesity was associated with lower PDI scores at 3 years in boys, but not girls. The mechanisms underlying this sex-specific association remain unclear, but due to elevated obesity exposure in urban populations, further investigation is warranted.
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S2040174419000412
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 September 2019
Development and validation of a method to quantify benefits of clean-air taxi legislation (May 2019)
Air pollution from motor vehicle traffic remains a significant threat to public health. Using taxi inspection and trip data, we assessed changes in New York City’s taxi fleet following Clean Air Taxi legislation enacted in 2005–2006. Inspection and trip data between 2004 and 2015 were used to assess changes in New York’s taxi fleet and to estimate and spatially apportion annual taxi-related exhaust emissions of nitric oxide (NO) and total particulate matter (PMT). These emissions changes were used to predict reductions in NO and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations estimates using data from the New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) in 2009–2015.
Citation: Fry, D., Kioumourtzoglou, M., Treat, C.A. et al. Development and validation of a method to quantify benefits of clean-air taxi legislation. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-019-0141-6
On June 4, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Juliana v. United States to determine whether the case will proceed to trial in district court in Oregon. Nearly 4 years ago, 21 children and adolescents between 8 and 19 years of age, including Kelsey Juliana from Oregon, filed suit against the federal government, charging that the government’s inaction on addressing climate change violated their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property.1 To date, no such lawsuit against the federal government has succeeded in the United States, despite a sharp increase in the number of similar suits filed by young people, municipalities, and state governments. Indeed, none of these lawsuits has gone to trial. As the Juliana plaintiffs argue — and we agree — climate change is the greatest public health emergency of our time and is particularly harmful to fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents.
Citation: Renee N. Salas, M.D., M.P.H., Wendy Jacobs, J.D., and Frederica Perera, Dr.P.H., Ph.D. May 30, 2019 N Engl J Med 2019; 380:2085-2087 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1905504