Health Effects Institute Annual Conference 2021

April 6, 2021 to May 25, 2021

In lieu of our annual conference in Boston, the 2021 HEI Annual Conference was held virtually with a series of eight webinars in April and May 2021.

Webinar recordings and slides are available below.

The 2022 HEI Annual Conference will be held from Sunday, April 24, through Tuesday, April 26, at The Westin Washington, DC City Center. Stay tuned for more details.


Webinar 1: Climate Change, Air Quality, and Health

Apr. 6, 2021 - 10:00am

Chairs: Frank Kelly, Imperial College, London, HEI Review Committee, and Melissa Perry, George Washington University, HEI Review Committee Chair

The changing climate is intricately linked to air quality and health. It has the potential to have significant impacts on air quality, for example with increased temperatures leading to higher levels of ozone, and drier conditions increasing wildfires and in turn, increasing particulate matter. At the same time black carbon, ozone, and other air pollutants can be short-lived climate forcers, exacerbating climate change.

This session will review what we know about these important interactions, what they mean for air quality and health co-benefits, and the potential for unequal exposures, benefits, and impacts.

Webinar recording

10:00 AM Welcome

10:05 AM Introduction

  • Melissa J. Perry
    , George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and Chair of HEI Review Committee

10:10 AM Can We Avoid the Climate Penalty Box? Reducing Emissions to Counteract Climate Effects on Air Quality and Health

10:30 AM Health and Air Quality Benefits of Energy System Change

10:50 AM Integrating Justice and Sustainability Goals into Climate Change Policy in California

11:10 AM Extreme Heat and Public Health

11:30 AM Panel Discussion and Q&A

11:50 AM Concluding Remarks

  • Frank Kelly

    Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Webinar 2: Environmental Health Research and Communities: Stories of Successes and Challenges

Apr. 13, 2021 - 10:00am

Chairs: Francesca Dominici, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, HEI Research Committee, and Peter Thorne, University of Iowa, HEI–Energy Research Committee

Investigating and addressing environmental health research questions requires collaboration among researchers, affected communities, policymakers, and other stakeholders before, during, and after research is conducted. Engaging communities facing socioeconomic or racial inequities throughout the research process can be challenging, despite the public health importance of doing so. In this session, we will hear case studies of environmental health research that both informs and is informed by the affected communities. These will be followed by a panel discussion on ethical considerations in working with communities as well as the benefits and challenges that come with community involvement.

Webinar recording

10:00 AM Welcome

10:02 AM Introduction

  • Francesca Dominici

    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

10:07 AM Strengthening Science and Justice Through Community Involvement

10:27 AM Approaches to Community-Engaged Research in Air Pollution Epidemiology and Exposure Assessment

10:52 AM Environmental Health Inequalities in Indigenous Communities: Interventions and Opportunities

11:12 AM Panel Discussion and Q&A

Webinar 3: From Global to Local: Informing Air Quality Policies and Decision-Making

Apr. 20, 2021 - 10:00am

Chairs: Eloise Marais, University College London, HEI Global Health Oversight Committee, and Jana Milford, University of Colorado, HEI Review Committee

Health impact assessments conducted around the globe point to the substantial burden of disease attributed to air pollution. Yet for a variety of reasons, both scientific and political, progress has stalled in addressing air pollution in many regions of the world. An increasing number of analytical approaches are emerging at global to local scales to help characterize air pollution sources, the relative health benefits of reducing them, and the cost-effectiveness of different approaches. Using results from a new global study on source-specific impacts of air pollution (Global Burden of Disease–Major Air Pollution Sources) as an example, this session will provide an overview of key approaches and discuss their implications for informing policies and solutions with a view to improve air quality at national and local scales.

Webinar recording

10:00 AM Welcome

10:02 AM Introduction

  • Eloise Marais
    , University College London, UK and HEI Global Health Oversight Committee

10:07 AM Estimating the Health Impact from Air Pollution: An Overview of Modeling Tools

10:27 AM Source Sector and Fuel Contributions to Ambient PM2.5 and Attributable Mortality Across Multiple Spatial Scales

10:47 AM Using Health Impacts Assessment to Inform Policy Decisions

11:02 AM Panel Discussion

  • Caradee Wright

    South African Medical Research Council, South Africa

  • Ashok Ghosh

    Bihar Pollution Control Board, India

11:28 AM Thank you and Wrap-up

Webinar 4: The COVID-19 Pandemic, Air Pollution, and Health: Lessons from Around the Globe

Apr. 27, 2021 - 10:00am

Chairs: Jeff Brook, University of Toronto, HEI Research Committee, and Barbara Hoffmann, University of Düsseldorf, HEI Research Committee

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread disruptions of society, including closures of businesses, schools, and industrial activities, and there have been unprecedented restrictions on travel at all scales. All of this has led to reductions in emissions of air pollution and changes in air quality in locations around the world. Relatedly, there is emerging evidence that exposure to air pollution may be associated with increased susceptibility to infection from COVID-19, with increased adverse symptoms and duration of the disease, as well as increased risk of mortality. This session will discuss these potential linkages, along with evidence of racial inequalities in exposures to air pollution and in COVID-19 outcomes, and discuss challenges in studying these issues. Lastly, the session will bring in the "One Health" approach, recognizing the interconnections between people, animals, and plants and their shared environment.

Webinar recording

10:00 AM Welcome and Introduction

10:05 AM Linkages Between Air Pollution, COVID-19, and Human Health

10:20 AM Air Pollution, Racial Disparities, and COVID-19 Outcomes

10:35 AM Methodological Considerations for Epidemiological Studies of Air Pollution and COVID-19

10:50 AM One Health: An Examination of the Global Reach of COVID-19

11:05 AM Q&A

Webinar 5: From Evidence to Action: Synthesizing Air Quality Evidence Relevant to Public Health

May. 4, 2021 - 10:00am

Chairs: Neil Pearce, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, HEI Research Committee, and Jennifer Peel, Colorado State University, HEI Review Committee

Synthesizing evidence relevant to public health is now more important than ever. Evidence synthesis may include systematic reviews or formal meta-analyses of the findings of observational studies. There have been evolving approaches to synthesis and integration of various forms of evidence throughout the years, for example, the weight of evidence’s approach that the US EPA use in their integrated science assessments. Another approach is Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE), which has its origins in clinical research and has been adopted by the WHO and Cochrane Collaboration. It has been applied recently to assess the quality of evidence for environmental exposures, such as air pollution. However, GRADE considers results from randomized studies as higher-quality evidence than non-randomized designs, a criterion that creates difficulties in environmental research, where randomized designs are largely not possible, thus down-grading important evidence by default. Alternative promising strategies for evidence synthesis have been suggested, including "triangulation". This session will examine approaches for evidence synthesis in environmental epidemiology and discuss possible paths forward.

Webinar recording

10:00 AM Welcome

10:05 AM Introduction

10:10 AM Evolution of and Current Issues in Evidence Synthesis and Integration in Air Pollution and Health

10:30 AM From Evidence to Actions: Evolution of WHO Air Quality Guidelines

10:50 AM Interpreting Epidemiological Evidence: Optimal Use of Informative but Imperfect Research

11:10 AM Panel Discussion

  • Jason Sacks

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  • Susan Norris

    Oregon Health & Science University

  • Jonathan M Samet

    Colorado School of Public Health

Webinar 6: Non-Tailpipe Emissions: Impacts on Urban Air Quality and Health

May. 11, 2021 - 10:00am

Chairs: Michael Jerrett, University of California, Los Angeles, HEI Review Committee, and Allen Robinson, Carnegie Mellon University, HEI Research Committee

With recent and ongoing substantial reductions in tailpipe emissions, there is increasing interest in non-tailpipe emissions, particularly in particles from tire and brake wear and road dust, and their potential health effects. This session will discuss the state of knowledge on non-tailpipe contributions to ambient concentrations and exposures to particulate matter, bringing in several disciplinary approaches, including measurement, modeling, toxicology, and epidemiology. The session will discuss both current conditions and likely future scenarios given expected changes in vehicle fleets as well as developments in brake and tire technology.

Webinar recording

10:00 AM Welcome

10:02 AM Introduction

10:10 AM Characterization of Brake and Tire Wear Particles

10:25 AM Emissions from the Tire and Road Interface and Mitigation Measures

10:40 AM Exposure Assessment of Non-Tailpipe Particulate Matter

10:55 AM Current Status of Non-Tailpipe Particulate Matter Epidemiology, and Moving Forward

11:10 AM Panel Discussion

Webinar 7: Early Career Researcher Spotlight

May. 13, 2021 - 10:00am

This session is an opportunity to meet the new generation of researchers and learn about their research directions in the field of air pollution and health. Speakers at the session are winners of the Jane Warren Trainee Conference Award 2021. The award is presented in remembrance of Dr. Jane Warren who joined HEI in the 1980s and served as the Director of Science from 1999 until her retirement in 2008; it is awarded to graduate students or postdoctoral scholars at academic or research institutions.

Webinar recording

Neighborhood Environmental Exposures and Incidence of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Population-Based Cohort Study

Estimating Perinatal Critical Windows to Environmental Mixtures via Structured Bayesian Regression Tree Pairs

PM2.5 Concentration and Composition in Subway Systems in the Northeastern United States

COVID-19 Pandemic Reveals Persistent Disparities in Nitrogen Dioxide Pollution

Association of Ambient PM2.5 Exposure and Its Composition with Anemia Prevalence Amongst the Women of Reproductive Age in India

Webinar 8: What We Have Learned about Effects on Health at Low Levels of Exposure: Evidence from the United States, Canada, and Europe

May. 25, 2021 - 10:00am

Chairs: Amy Herring, Duke University, HEI Research Committee, and Sverre Vedal, University of Washington

In 2015, HEI funded three studies to investigate the health effects of long-term exposures to low levels of air pollution in very large populations across the United States, Canada, and Europe. This session will present results from these recently completed studies, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss potential implications for future risk assessment and regulation.  Highlights include thorough examinations of concentration–response functions, results for multiple health endpoints (e.g., cause-specific mortality, respiratory events), as well as multiple pollutants (e.g., PM2.5, O3, NO2), and causal modeling approaches.

Webinar recording

10:00 AM Introduction

10:15 AM Effects of Confounder Control and Causal Modelling

10:30 AM Comparison of Concentration–Response Functions

10:45 AM Results from Multi-Pollutant Models

11:00 AM Commentary and Critique

11:15 AM Questions and Discussion

11:40 AM Concluding Remarks

Online Webinars
Boston, MA 02110
United States
Full Conference Rate: 

Not applicable

Single Day Rates
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Not applicable

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