Association between traffic-related black carbon exposure and lung function among urban women

Shakira Franco Suglia, Alexandros Gryparis, Joel Schwartz, Rosalinda J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Background: Although a number of studies have documented the relationship between lung function and traffic-related pollution among children, few have focused on adult lung function or examined community-based populations. Objective: We examined the relationship between black carbon (BC), a surrogate of traffic-related particles, and lung function among women in the Maternal-Infant Smoking Study of East Boston, an urban cohort in Boston, Massachusetts. Methods: We estimated local BC levels using a validated spatiotemporal land-use regression model, derived using ambient and indoor monitor data. We examined associations between percent predicted pulmonary function and predicted BC using linear regression, adjusting for sociodemographics (individual and neighborhood levels), smoking status, occupational exposure, type of cooking fuel, and a diagnosis of asthma or chronic bronchitis. Results: The sample of 272 women 18-42 years of age included 57% who self-identified as Hispanic versus 43% white, and 18% who were current smokers. Mean ± SD predicted annual BC exposure level was 0.62 ± 0.2 μg/m3. In adjusted analysis, BC (per interquartile range increase) was associated with a 1.1% decrease [95% confidence interval (CI), -2.5% to 0.3%] in forced expiratory volume in 1 sec, a 0.6% decrease (95% CI, -1.9% to 0.6%) in forced vital capacity, and a 3.0% decrease (95% CI, -5.8% to -0.2%) in forced mid-expiratory flow rate. We noted differential effects by smoking status in that former smokers were most affected by BC exposure, whereas current smokers were not affected. Conclusion: In this cohort, exposure to traffic-related BC, a component of particulate matter, independently predicted decreased lung function in urban women, when adjusting for tobacco smoke, asthma diagnosis, and socioeconomic status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1333-1337
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Air pollution
  • Lung function
  • Particles
  • Traffic


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