Effect of individual and shared environmental factors on spirometric outcomes in urban New Jersey families: An analysis using heritability models

Steven Michael Miller, University of Pennsylvania


The effects of passive smoking on lung function were examined, concentrating on the home environment and familial relationships. Heritability models, which allow simultaneous estimation of hereditary influence on lung function and environmental influences both in the home and outside of it, were used. The classical model (Analysis of Genetic Components of Variance) was coupled with prior regression for different risk factors, and with computer-intensive methods for estimation of error, to measure heritability and environmental components. A simple version of a model path analysis used by C. C. Li (1975) to measure environmental effects on I.Q. was also adapted to the lung function data to give a similar analysis. Family data were obtained from health surveys of two urban populations from northern New Jersey which were originally designed to determine whether there were any measurable health effects from industrial sources of air population. Data were collected on smoking, respiratory disease and household factors including home heating fuel and cooking fuel. Lung function tests were also done. The parameter FEF25%-75% (mean mid-forced expiratory flow) was used as the endpoint most sensitive to the effects of passive smoking and other risk factors. The method of analysis used here gave similar estimates of heritability and environmental components to those of studies using more complicated models involving many-faceted path structures and maximum likelihood estimation methods. It can distinguish whether an input variable is a personal environmental or a shared environmental factor. The personal environmental factors tested were smoking and respiratory disease history. Both smoking and respiratory disease history were large (from 5% to 10% of environmental variation) but not statistically significant (p $>$ 0.05). The shared environmental factors were cooking fuel, heating fuel, proximity to possible sources of industrial air pollution, and passive smoking. All of the shared environmental factors accounted for very little of the environmental variation except passive smoking, which accounted for approximately 5% of environmental variation in lung function, but was not statistically significant.

Subject Area

Public health|Environmental science|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Miller, Steven Michael, "Effect of individual and shared environmental factors on spirometric outcomes in urban New Jersey families: An analysis using heritability models" (1988). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8908365.