Journal of Community Health

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 1015–1023 | Cite as

Respiratory Health Risks for Children Living Near a Major Railyard

  • Rhonda Spencer-HwangEmail author
  • Sam Soret
  • Synnove Knutsen
  • David Shavlik
  • Mark Ghamsary
  • W. Lawrence Beeson
  • Wonha Kim
  • Susanne Montgomery
Original Paper


Inland southern California is a region of public health concern, especially for children, given the area’s perennially poor air quality and increasing sources of local pollution. One elementary school specifically is located only a few hundred yards from the San Bernardino Railyard, one of the busiest goods movement facilities in California, potentially increasing respiratory problems. Through ENRRICH (Environmental Railyard Research Impacting Community Health) Project, we assessed association of proximity to a major freight railyard on adverse respiratory health in schoolchildren. Respiratory screening was provided for children at two elementary schools: one near the railyard and a socio-demographically matched comparison school 7 miles away. Screening included testing for airway inflammation (Fe NO), lung function (peak expiratory flow, PEF) and parent reported respiratory symptoms. Parental questionnaires collected additional information. Log-binomial and linear regression assessed associations. Children attending school near the railyard were more likely to exhibit airway obstruction with higher prevalence of abnormal PEF (<80 %): prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.59 (95 % CI 1.19–2.12). The association with inflammation was less clear. Children at the exposure school, who had lived 6 months or longer at their current address (vs. all children at that school) were more likely to have values suggesting inflammation (Fe NO > 20 ppb) (PR = 1.44, 95 % CI 1.02–2.02) and present with a trend for increased adverse respiratory symptoms. Children attending school near the railyard were significantly more likely to display respiratory health challenges. Ideally these low-income, low resource communities should be supported to implement sustainable intervention strategies to promote an environment where children can live healthier and thrive.


Air pollution Children Respiratory Railyard Health professionals 



California Air Resource Board


Fractional exhaled nitric oxide


Control school


Peak expiratory flow


Diesel particulate matter


Prevalence ratio


Exposure school


San Bernardino Railyard



This research was funded by the SCAQMD/BP West Coast Products Oversight Committee, LLC Grant # 659005 and by NIH # P20MD006988. We thank the Arrowhead Regional Center Breathmobile® for collaborating with Project ENRRICH and the Aerocrine Corporation for donating additional NIOX tests. We are also grateful to Drs. J. Ospital and T. Chico, from the SCAQMD, for providing the MATES emissions data.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no financial conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rhonda Spencer-Hwang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sam Soret
    • 1
  • Synnove Knutsen
    • 1
  • David Shavlik
    • 1
  • Mark Ghamsary
    • 1
  • W. Lawrence Beeson
    • 1
  • Wonha Kim
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susanne Montgomery
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Public HealthLoma Linda UniversityLoma LindaUSA
  2. 2.School of MedicineLoma Linda UniversityLoma LindaUSA
  3. 3.Behavioral Health Institute, School of Behavioral HealthLoma Linda UniversityLoma LindaUSA

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