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environmental-epidemiology

Exposure Sciences and Environmental Epidemiology

Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunity

The fellow will contribute to research on early life environmental exposures and child health...

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Human exposure to particulate matter air pollution is linked to increased mortality, exacerbation of asthma and COPD symptoms, decreased respiratory rate and lung function, and increased blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risks.

Our exposure to environmental air pollution is involuntary and lasts from fetal development through every life stage. Most epidemiological research has focused on ambient air pollution, using data from fixed, outdoor air quality monitors to estimate the population’s exposure and then correlate these area-wide exposures with disease. However, air pollutant concentrations vary temporally and spatially outdoors and these monitors do a poor job of estimating exposures of individuals or indoor exposures. This may be especially important given that American adults spend 60-90 percent of their time indoors and air pollution concentrations often exceed those measured outdoors due to indoor sources. Thus, there is a need to better understand human exposure to air pollution indoors and outdoors and as a function of location and source.

Research Highlight

Development of a Sampler for Total Aerosol Deposition in the Human Respiratory Tract

Studies that seek to associate reduced human health with exposure to occupational and environmental aerosols are often hampered by limitations in the exposure assessment process. One limitation involves the measured exposure metric itself. Current methods for personal exposure assessment are designed to estimate the aspiration of aerosol into the human body. Since a large proportion of inhaled aerosol is subsequently exhaled, a portion of the aspirated aerosol will not contribute to the dose. This leads to variable exposure misclassification (for heterogenous exposures) and increased uncertainty in health effect associations. Alternatively, a metric for respiratory deposition would provide a more physiologically relevant estimate of risk. To address this challenge, we have developed a method to estimate the deposition of aerosol in the human respiratory tract using a sampler engineered from polyurethane foam.

Associated Faculty