Breathing Deep: Air Pollution, Health, and Public Health Policy

July 10, 2014
10:00 am US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Speaker presentation slides:

Dr. John Balmes: Outdoor Air Pollution and Asthma - Download the PDF

Dr. George Thurston: Air Pollution and Health - Download the PDF

Andrea Hricko: Near Roadway Air Pollution (NRAP): Special concerns near busy roads, highways, and "hot spots" - Download the PDF

Additional resources of interest:

Fresno Asthmatic Children’s Environment Study (FACES) - Read more

2012 Global Burden of Disease Report - Read more

Listen to Recording

Air pollution levels vary with traffic, industry, land use patterns, season, and weather. In many urban areas, air pollution is worse during the summer. This call reviewed the latest science linking air pollution and various health outcomes and how that science is (or isn’t) being translated into stronger public health policy globally, nationally, and regionally.

Dr. John Balmes, Professor, UC Berkeley School of Public Health provided an overview of the science linking air pollution to health, and then discussed the Fresno Asthmatic Children’s Environment Study (FACES). Andrea Hricko, Director, Community Outreach and Education, Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, focused on near-roadway air pollution, especially around “freight transport” magnets, such as ports, rail yards, warehouses, and truck-congested freeways. Finally, Dr. George Thurston, Professor, NYU School of Medicine and the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, provided a review of the 2012 Global Burden of Disease Report, particularly focusing on how indoor combined with outdoor particulate matter adds to a large global impact on health, comparable in concern to other major health risks (poor diet, smoking, etc.). Dr. Thurston also touched on the concept of the health co-benefits of climate mitigation.

Featured Speakers

JohnBalmesDr. John Balmes, MD, is a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Balmes' laboratory, the Human Exposure Laboratory (HEL), has been studying the respiratory health effects of various air pollutants for the past 18 years. Recently, the HEL has been focusing on the airway inflammatory effects of ozone, secondhand tobacco smoke, and wood smoke. Dr. Balmes is also collaborating on several epidemiological projects. One such project is called the "Fresno Asthmatic Children's Environment Study" (FACES). The overall specific aim of FACES is to determine the relationship between air pollution-induced short-term exacerbations of childhood asthma and the longer-term course of asthma.

Andrea Hricko is Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine and Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the NIEHS-supported Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center. Ms. Hricko is a leader in the efforts to make health a priority in the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports expansion debate. She is nationally known for her work on inserting health into transportation decision-making. She served on the US EPA National Environmental Justice Committee’s Working Group on Ports and Goods Movement and currently serves on the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council to the NIEHS.

 Dr. George Thurston is Director of the Program in Exposure Assessment and Human Health Effects at the Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, and is a leading scholar on the human health effects of air pollution. His research has focused on health effects of air pollution in New York City, as well as in cities across the nation and around the world. In New York City, this has included his Backpack Study of the effect of diesel air pollution on children with asthma in the South Bronx. He is also an author of the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report, published in the Lancet in 2012, which provided global estimates of the life years lost due to outdoor fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5). Dr. Thurston has also been a leader in advancing the intersection of science and public policy decision-making.

The call was moderated by Steve Heilig, CHE Director of Public Health & Education, and Director of Public Health & Education, San Francisco Medical Society.