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Your Environment. Your Health.

News Releases

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

News Release

Archive - New Contact Information

For more information about this archival news release, please contact Christine Flowers, Director, Office of Communications & Public Liaison at (919) 541-3665.
Thursday, January 31, 2002, 12:00 a.m. EDT
Contact: David Wheeler, NIEHS
(212) 575-4545
Dr. Rob McConnell, NIEHS
(323) 442-1096

After Tuskegee: Communities of Color Address Ethical and Social Implications of Genetic Research

The notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Study ( cast a legacy of mistrust of medical research for the black community and it is one explicit reason why all communities of color need to be well-informed about the Human Genome Project ( . The consequences of decoding the human genome raise crucial and controversial ethical and social issues for people of color and for the poor-including regulation of human cloning, potential racial profiling, threats to personal privacy, and public funding of genetics research. On February 4, these issues will be addressed by the nation's leading scientists, policy makers, and community advocates at a national conference and community dialogue sponsored by West Harlem Environmental Action (

The conference, "Human Genetics, Environment, and Communities of Color: Ethical and Social Implications," will kick off Black History Month 2002, and is co-sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences ( (NIEHS), the NIEHS Center for Environmental Health ( in Northern Manhattan at Columbia University, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (

A press conference will be held at noon, featuring the conference's primary speakers: Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., Director of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Troy Duster, Ph.D. (, influential sociologist and author; Paul Steven Miller ( , Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Peggy Shepard , Executive Director, West Harlem Environmental Action; Charmaine Royal, Ph.D., National Human Genome Research Center at Howard University; Marcy Darnovsky, Center for Genetics and Society, and Debra Harry, MA, Indigenous People's Council on Biocolonialism.

  • DATE: Monday, February 4, 2002
  • TIME: 12:00 p.m.
  • PLACE: Alfred Lerner Hall,
    Columbia University 115th Street & Broadway
  • CONTACT: David Wheeler, 212-575-4545
    Linden, Alschuler & Kaplan Public Relations


Multi-Sports in Ozone May Raise Asthma Risk

A National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-sponsored study in this week's issue of The Lancet suggests that children playing a lot of outdoor team sports in areas of high ozone concentration could be three times more likely to develop asthma than children who do not take part in sporting activities.

Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood; its prevalence and incidence have been increasing in children in developed countries during the past few decades, although the causes of this epidemic remain unclear. Little is known about the effect of exposure to air pollution during exercise or time spent outdoors on the development of asthma. Rob McConnell and colleagues from USC School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA, investigated the relation between newly-diagnosed asthma and team sports in a population of children exposed to different concentrations and mixtures of air pollutants.

Around 3500 children (who had no history of asthma) were recruited from schools in 12 communities in southern California and were followed-up for up to 5 years. 265 children reported a new diagnosis of asthma during follow-up. Children who played three or more outdoor sports in high-ozone environments were more than three times as likely to develop asthma compared with children who did not play any sports. There was no increased risk where ozone concentrations were low. Children who spent time outside in areas with high ozone concentrations were 1.4 times more likely to develop asthma than children in areas of low ozone concentration. Other environmental pollutants- nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and inorganic-acid vapour-were not associated with an increased asthma risk.

Rob McConnell comments: "We conclude that the incidence of new asthma diagnoses is associated with heavy exercise in communities with high levels of ambient ozone, and that in these conditions, air pollution and outdoor exercise might contribute to development of asthma in children."

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