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The Association between Residential Proximity to Brownfield Sites and High-Traffic Areas and Measures of Immunity


Lodge, Evans K.; Engel, Lawrence S.; Ferrando-Martínez, Sara; Wildman, Derek E.; Uddin, Monica; Galea, Sandro; & Aiello, Allison E. (2020). The Association between Residential Proximity to Brownfield Sites and High-Traffic Areas and Measures of Immunity. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 30(5), 824-834. PMCID: PMC7483819


The mechanisms by which neighborhood environmental exposures influence health are poorly understood, although immune system dysregulation represents a potential biological pathway. While many neighborhood exposures have been investigated, there is little research on residential proximity to brownfield waste. Using biomarker data from 262 participants in the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study, we estimated the association between proximity to brownfields and heavy traffic and signal joint T-cell receptor excision circles (sjTRECs, a measure of naive T-cell production), C-reactive protein (CRP, a measure of systemic inflammation), and interleukin-6 (IL-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine). We assessed residential proximity ≤200 m from brownfields and highways on all three biomarkers using multivariate regression. We demonstrated that living ≤200 m from a brownfield site was associated with a 0.30 (95% CI = 0.59, 0.02, p = 0.04) log(e)-unit decrease in sjTRECs per million whole blood cells, as well as non-significantly elevated levels of CRP and IL-6. Heavy traffic was not associated with any biomarker. Persons living in close proximity to brownfield sites had significantly lower naive T-cell production, suggesting accelerated immune aging. Decreased T-cell production associated with brownfield proximity may be caused by toxicant exposure in brownfield sites, or may serve as a marker of other neighborhood stressors.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology


Lodge, Evans K.
Engel, Lawrence S.
Ferrando-Martínez, Sara
Wildman, Derek E.
Uddin, Monica
Galea, Sandro
Aiello, Allison E.



Data Set/Study

Detroit Neighborhood Health Study


United States of America