Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences


Leah Whigham

Second Advisor

Wen-Whai Li


Exposure to air pollution from traffic-related emissions is a considerable preventable cause of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. However, the impacts on at-risk populations, such as children with asthma and low-income residents, are yet to be fully understood in the border city of El Paso, TX. This dissertation focused on the most common traffic-related pollutants which include particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3). The research described in this work provides an overview of air pollution measurements and shares insights from three different studies in our region.

People with asthma are more likely adversely affected by traffic emissions, particularly young children. Previous studies showed regular exercise reduces asthma exacerbation and improves lung function. However, few studies have looked at the physical activity and air quality relationship. We found inverse associations of air pollution and time spent in physical activity by children with asthma attending an elementary school near a heavy traffic road.

Through secondary data analyses, we also linked the short term effects of traffic-related pollutants with respiratory outcomes such as airway inflammation and lung function. Furthermore, we found associations between air pollution and metabolic syndrome in our region. Our investigations included measured concentrations of traffic-related pollutants and land use regression models using geographic information system (GIS) measures. As expected, we found associations between air pollution and respiratory outcomes, but also unexpected associations with obesity from both short-term and long-term exposure to air pollutants. We expect future studies to consider statistical models that combine geographic information systems with more health outcomes to elucidate further negative health effects caused by exposure to air pollution in vulnerable populations.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

153 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Juan Aguilera