FACES (Fresno Asthmatic Children's Environment Study) Overview

This page updated May 28, 2003.

This study, which began recruiting children in October/ November 2000, is the first to be sponsored under the auspices of the ARB's new Vulnerable Populations Research Program. The project is being conducted by a team of researchers from a number of organizations, led by the University of California, Berkeley.
The purpose of this project is to determine the effects of the Fresno environment on children with asthma. The focus of the study is on how various environmental factors influence the way a child's asthma progresses over time. Among the environmental influences of interest are air pollutants from man-made and natural sources. A major focus is on different components of particulate matter (PM), including PM10 and PM2.5 mass, particle number distributions over size ranges less than 2.5 microns, PM chemical constituents (elements [metals], nitrates, ammonium nitrate, sulfate, chloride and adsorbed organic compounds [for example, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)]). The influence of other air pollutants, including ozone (O3), oxides of nitrogen (NO2, NO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide, as well as bioaerosols (for example, PM-associated endotoxin, fungi and pollens) will also be considered.
Children living in the Fresno / Clovis area, who are now between the ages of 6 and 11 years old, and who have been told by a doctor that they have asthma are being recruited to participate in the study. A total of 300 asthmatic children (boys and girls) are now being enrolled into the study, and will continue to be enrolled through the beginning of 2003.  All of the children will reside within 20 kilometers of a special air quality monitoring site located in downtown Fresno. The United States Environmental Protection Agency sponsors this special site referred to as a "Supersite."
The children's respiratory health will be evaluated in the FACES office at the time of enrollment, and every six months until the beginning of 2005.  In addition, to evaluate the cumulative effects of repeated short-term responses to daily environmental exposures, each group of children will also participate in approximately 8 two-week daily follow-up periods, during which measures of health, such as symptoms, medications use, and lung function, will be collected daily by the children at home.  The study includes an extensive exposure assessment program, which will consider outdoor, indoor and personal exposures that are known to, or thought to exacerbate asthma (trigger asthma attacks or symptoms).

Figure 1

little girl being taught how to blow into a spirometer

This photograph shows a little girl at the FACES office in Fresno being taught by FACES staff how to blow into a spirometer -- which is a device used to measure lung function.

Figure 2

little girl using hand-held spirometer

This picture shows a little girl using the small hand-held spirometer that the children will use at home during the two-week daily follow-up periods.
This study does not involve any medical treatment of the children participating, however, the knowledge we gain though their participation will shed light on at least some of the environmental factors that influence the behavior of childhood asthma as children grow. The information obtained through this project will be used in the development and evaluation of ambient air quality standards and other air pollution related public health policies implemented at the State and community level that are designed to protect against the harmful health effects of pollutants. These actions will lead to improvements in the protection of this highly vulnerable subgroup (that is, asthmatic children) and potentially to significant reductions in the direct and indirect asthma-related costs borne by all Californians.
For more information about this ARB Program, you may contact Ken Bowers at (916) 323-1510 of the Air Resources Board or visit the University of California at Berkeley's website.

For information about eligibility, please visit FACES.