Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Using National and Local Extant Data to Characterize Environmental Exposures in the National Children's Study: Queens County, New York

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Using National and Local Extant Data to Characterize Environmental Exposures in the National Children's Study: Queens County, New York

Article excerpt

OBJECTIVE: The National Children's Study is a long-term epidemiologic study of 100,000 children from 105 locations across the United States. It will require information on a large number of environmental variables to address its core hypotheses. The resources available to collect actual home and personal exposure samples are limited, with most of the home sampling completed on periodic visits and the personal sampling generally limited to biomonitoring. To fill major data gaps, extant data will be required for each study location. The Queens Vanguard Center has examined the extent of those needs and the types of data that are generally and possibly locally available.

DATA: In this review we identify three levels of data--national, state and county--and local data and information sets (levels 1--3, respectively), each with different degrees of availability and completeness, that can be used as a starting point for the extant data collection in each study location over time. We present an example on the use of this tiered approach, to tailor the data needs for Queens County and to provide general guidance for application to other NCS locations.

CONCLUSIONS: Preexisting and continually evolving databases are available for use in the NCS to characterize exposure. The three levels of data we identified will be used to test a method for developing exposure indices for segments and homes during the pilot phase of NCS, as outlined in this article.

KEY WORDS: children, environmental measurements, EXIS, exposure index, exposure information system, microinventories, National Children's Study, national databases, NCS. Environ Health Perspect 117:1494-1504 (2009). doi:10.1289/ehp.0900623 available via [Online 15 June 2009]


The National Children's Study (NCS) is a large-scale, longitudinal epidemiologic study of 100,000 children to be selected from 105 locations across the United States, authorized by Congress to identify human exposures and preventable causes of childhood disease (Landrigan et al. 2006; NCS 2007a). To assess residential exposures, researchers will collect dust, water, and other samples from homes and analyze biological specimens for chemical contamination as well as for other markers of exposure. These measurements alone cannot fully characterize environmental exposures of participants in this study; other data are needed for the testing of certain key hypotheses of the NCS, a point that was not a prominent concern during the initial design stage (Ozkaynak et al. 2005). Thus, extant environmental data sets specific to study locations, counties, and segments will be needed to supplement the new study-specific measurements and provide supplementary study-related data at a relatively low cost. These data have the most value when they are used in conjunction with other resources for exposure characterizations, including computational source-to-dose modeling (e.g., Georgopoulos and Lioy 2006).

Queens, New York (USA), is one of seven national NCS pilot study locations. In this article we present an initial characterization of environmental databases and associated information available for Queens, where the objective is to recruit a representative sample of 1,250 live births. We analyzed national-, regional-, and county-level databases and other data-gathering efforts and engaged the local community leadership during the process. We describe the environmental characteristics of Queens in conjunction with the approach for conducting segment characterization and, eventually, home characterization and present this approach in generalized form for subsequent use in other NCS locations.

Segment Selection in the NCS

The design of the NCS has been extensively described elsewhere, especially focusing on the multistage clustered sampling approach to enroll a sample of 100,000 live births representative of all American children (Branum et al. …

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