This report presents a study led by Dr. Jane Clougherty at Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University. Clougherty and colleagues examined whether associations between community- and individual-level cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and ambient air pollutants vary by social stressors.

Epidemiologic evidence suggests that chronic stress may alter susceptibility to air pollution, but spatial confounding between these factors limits the utility of epidemiologic methods to disentangle these effects and investigate physiologic mechanisms. Clougherty et al. (p.

There is growing interest in disentangling the health effects of spatially clustered social and physical environmental exposures and in exploring potential synergies among them, with particular attention directed to the combined effects of psychosocial stress and air pollution.

Chen et al. (2008) examined the potential for social stressors to influence responsiveness to environmental pollution. Contrary to their initial hypothesis, and to results we reported previously (Clougherty et al. 2007), their findings indicated that chronic stress was associated with asthma symptoms and heightened inflammatory profiles only in low nitrogen dioxide areas. We would like to note several key issues in the emerging research on social susceptibility to environmental pollutants that should be considered as research on this work moves forward. (Correspondence)