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Traffic-related air pollution, chronic stress, and changes in exhaled nitric oxide and lung function among a panel of children with asthma living in an underresourced community.

We examined associations between short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP) and airway inflammation and lung function in children with asthma, and whether these associations are modified by chronic psychological stress. Residents of underresourced port-adjacent communities in New Jersey were concerned about the cumulative impacts of exposure to TRAP, particularly diesel-engine truck emissions, and stress on exacerbation of asthma among children. Children with asthma aged 9-14 (n = 35) were recruited from non-smoking households. We measured each participant's (1) continuous personal exposure to black carbon (BC, a surrogate of TRAP) at 1-min intervals, (2) 24-h integrated personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ), (3) daily fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), and (4) lung function for up to 30 consecutive days. Personal BC was recorded by micro-aethalometers. We measured daily FeNO using the NIOX MINO, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and forced vital capacity (FVC) using Easy One Frontline spirometers. Chronic stress was measured with the UCLA Life Stress Interview for Children. The association was examined using linear mixed-effect models. In the fully adjusted model, an interquartile range (IQR) increase in BC at lag 0-6 h before the FeNO measurement was associated with 8 % (95 % CI: 3 % - 12 %) increase in FeNO, whereas an IQR increase in BC at lag 7-12 h and lag 0-24 h were associated with 6 % (95 % CI: 2 % - 11 %) and 7 % (2 % - 12 %) FeNO increases, respectively. There were no significant lung function changes per IQR increase in BC. No interactions were observed between chronic stress and BC on FeNO. Chronic stress was negatively associated with individual average FeNO levels. Our findings suggest that higher levels of BC exposure within the prior 24 h increased airway inflammation levels in children with asthma, with the strongest effect observed within the first 6 h.

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