Health Effects Institute 2018 Annual Conference

April 29, 2018 to May 1, 2018

The 2018 HEI Annual Conference was held in Chicago, Illinois, from April 29-May 1, 2018.

The scientific program can be found below. Sunday morning featured a pre-conference workshop on Causal Modeling in Air Pollution Research and Policy. Presentations are available for download with permission from the speakers.


Pre-Conference Workshop: Causal Modeling in Air Pollution Research and Policy

Apr. 29, 2018 - 9:00am

Chairs: Francesca Dominici, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and HEI Research Committee, and Katherine Walker, Health Effects Institute

Recent years have seen a growing interest in the application of modeling methods to systematically explore causal relationships between air pollution and health. This session will bring together experts in causal modeling to introduce different methods, provide critical perspectives on their potential contributions and limitations, and discuss their interpretation within the broader context of how to understand whether an exposure is or is not causing effects. Open to all conference attendees.

9:00 AM Opening Remarks / Objectives

9:10 AM The Many Paths to Causality

9:35 AM Predicting and Evaluating Changes in Health Risks Caused by Changes in Air Pollution

10:00 AM Approaches to Causal Inference in Observational Studies in Medical Decision Making

10:25 AM Break

10:45 AM Panel Discussion

  • Lianne Sheppard

    University of Washington

  • Richard Scheines

    Carnegie Mellon University

  • Tony Cox

    Cox Associates

  • Sharon-Lise Normand

    Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

11:30 AM Lunch

Ozone: Global Pollutant, Personal Effects

Apr. 29, 2018 - 1:00pm

Chairs: Dan Greenbaum, Health Effects Institute, and Jana Milford, University of Colorado–Boulder and HEI Review Committee

Ozone is a secondary pollutant that is regulated through the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which are reviewed every five years; the next ozone review is due to start soon. This session will discuss challenges in controlling ozone levels, including atmospheric transport across continents and climate change, and the current science-based evidence that will contribute to the ozone health assessment. The session will end with a discussion of challenges facing those who must work to implement the ozone NAAQS.

1:00 PM Welcome and Introduction

1:10 PM Global Dimensions to Regional Air Quality: Transboundary Transport and Climate Change

1:50 PM Recent Studies That Will Contribute to the Ozone Health Assessment and the Setting of the Standard

1:50 PM Introduction

2:00 PM Link Between Ozone and Health: Epidemiologic Evidence

2:30 PM Break

2:50 PM Link Between Ozone and Health: Clinical Studies

3:20 PM Panel Discussion: How Does Scientific Knowledge and Uncertainty Inform Attainment Efforts at Ground Level?

3:40 PM General Discussion

Presentation of Student and Postdoc Travel Awards

Apr. 29, 2018 - 3:55pm
Speaker: Dan Greenbaum, Health Effects Institute

3:55 PM Award Presentation

Poster Session 1

Apr. 29, 2018 - 4:15pm

Opening Reception, Dinner, and Keynote Speaker

Apr. 29, 2018 - 6:00pm
Speaker: Venkat Sumantran, Chairman, Celeris Technologies; coauthor of Faster, Smarter, Greener: The Future of the Car and Urban Mobility

Health Effects of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Assessing the Evidence in an Evolving and Complex World

Apr. 30, 2018 - 8:30am

Chairs: Francesco Forastiere, Lazio Regional Health Service, Italy, and Fred Lurmann, Sonoma Technology, Inc.

This session will discuss important factors related to the design and interpretation of health studies of traffic-related air pollution. It is intended to aid the scope of a new systematic review to assess health effects of such air pollution, which will update HEI’s 2010 literature review. The session will also introduce the Traffic Review Panel, as well as announce new HEI studies that will assess the health effects of traffic-related air pollution while taking into account other factors such as noise, socioeconomic status, and green space.

8:30 AM Introduction of Panel Members for the New Review of the Traffic and Health Literature

8:40 AM Traffic-Related Air Pollution: A Moving Target

9:10 AM Important Knowledge Gaps in Studying Health Effects of Traffic Exposure

9:30 AM Comments from Stakeholders and General Discussion

  • Kathryn Sargeant
    , U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Bart Croes
    , California Air Resources Board
  • Matthew Spears

    Engine Manufacturers Association

10:10 AM The New HEI Traffic and Health Studies

10:15 AM Break

Air Pollution and Diabetes: What Is the Evidence?

Apr. 30, 2018 - 10:45am

Chairs: Barbara Hoffmann, University of Düsseldorf, Germany; and Ivan Rusyn, Texas A&M University, both of the HEI Research Committee

Diabetes and obesity, as well as air pollution, are known risk factors in the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Air pollution is associated with development of diabetes in adults, and there is some evidence that early-life exposure in children may be associated with diabetes later in life. This session will discuss the evidence, who is most susceptible, and what mechanisms are behind these observations.

10:45 AM Brief Introduction to the Session

10:50 AM Overview of Evidence of a Link Between Air Pollution and Diabetes

11:10 AM Mechanistic Insights into Air Pollution and Type 2 Diabetes

11:30 AM Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Type 2 Diabetes in Adults

11:50 AM Early-Life Exposure to Air Pollution and Diabetes in Childhood

12:10 PM General Discussion

12:30 PM Lunch

Poster Session 2

Apr. 30, 2018 - 1:30pm

Can We Rely on Environmental Health Research?

Apr. 30, 2018 - 3:15pm

Chairs: Amy Herring, Duke University and HEI Research Committee; and Kiros Berhane, University of Southern California and HEI Review Committee

Awareness has grown during the last decade that many scientific studies have not been reproduced and the problem seems to be particularly widespread in certain fields. Environmental standards are health based and there have been long-standing debates about replicability and reproducibility of the studies underpinning regulations (including data access, quality, and analyses), though arguably the recent debate has given this issue greater visibility. Reproducibility has been the focus of several recent debates in scientific journals and also is reflected in congressional efforts at transparency. This session will describe the background on this issue, different perspectives on it, and approaches to addressing it.

3:15 PM Reproducibility and Replicability: Definitions and What They Imply

3:45 PM Choices and Consequences: Study Design, Data Analysis, Reporting, Interpretation

4:15 PM Reproducibility and Air Pollution Epidemiology

4:45 PM Panel Discussion

Free Evening

Apr. 30, 2018 - 5:15pm

Advancing Air Quality, Global Health, and Energy Science at HEI

May. 1, 2018 - 8:30am

Research Committee Chair David Eaton, University of Washington–Seattle, and Review Committee Chair James Merchant, University of Iowa, will introduce the two committees and preside over a presentation of HEI’s research program, which includes traffic-related air pollution, low levels of exposure, accountability, and mechanisms of effect, as well as the expanding Global Health Program. Energy Research Committee Chair George Hornberger, Vanderbilt University, will join them to present HEI’s Energy Research Program, focused on the potential for human exposure and health effects from the development of oil and natural gas from unconventional resources.


  • Chairs: David Eaton, Jim Merchant

8:30 AM Introduction of New Chair of the Research Committee

  • Daniel S. Greenbaum

    Health Effects Institute

8:40 AM Introduction to Core Research and Review Committees

8:55 AM Presentation of 2017 Walter A. Rosenblith New Investigator Awards

  • Annemoon M van Erp

    Health Effects Institute

9:05 AM Core Science Program: Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Low Levels of Exposure, Accountability, and Mechanisms

9:25 AM Global Health Program: GBD MAPS, Household Air Pollution, and Ports


  • Chair: George Hornberger

9:50 AM Introduction to the Energy Research Committee and the Program

10:05 AM Progress on Systematic Review of the Human Health Literature Related to Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas Development

10:25 AM Plans for Exposure Literature Review and Research Planning

The Power of Place: Pathways to Healthy Urban Living

May. 1, 2018 - 11:15am

Chairs: David Foster, University of Wisconsin–Madison and HEI Research Committee; and Frank Kelly, King's College London, United Kingdom, and HEI Review Committee

More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and this number is expected to increase because of continuing population growth and urbanization. Air pollution and noise, along with interrelated factors such as physical inactivity, lack of green space, stress, and socioeconomic deprivation, are associated with adverse health. This session will explore how integrated urban design, transport planning, and new mobility and transportation technologies can improve city residents’ health and reshape cities in the future.

11:15 AM KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Health of Urban Populations

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Interrelationships Between Urban Green Space, Air Pollution, and Health

1:30 PM Healthy Urban Living: Urban Design, Transport Planning, and Travel Choice

2:15 PM General Discussion

Conference Adjourns

May. 1, 2018 - 2:30pm
The Drake Hotel
140 E Walton Place
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
Full Conference Rate: 

Sunday Through Tuesday.

Includes the Pre-Conference Workshop (separate registration required) and all meals and breaks, Sunday lunch through Tuesday lunch, except Monday dinner.

Single Day Rates
Sunday Includes lunch, breaks, reception, and dinner
Monday Includes breakfast, lunch, and breaks.
Tuesday Includes breakfast, lunch, and breaks.

The Drake Hotel, 140 E Walton Place, Chicago, Illinois 60611. 

HEI Code of Conduct

HEI fully expects that all participants who attend any in-person or online meeting or event behave with the utmost respect for peers, colleagues, staff, volunteers, researchers, sponsors, and everyone across the HEI community. It is our sincere desire that every event, meeting, and gathering we host or participate in fosters and encourages an inclusive, positive, and welcoming environment for all. Read HEI’s full Code of Conduct Statement.