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Ongoing Research

At any given time, HEI has a variety of ongoing studies at various stages of completion. Here, you will find a list of studies with more detailed information for each, including abstracts and posters presented at HEI Annual Conferences. We also indicate which studies have been completed and are currently undergoing HEI’s rigorous review process.

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Ongoing Studies

Accountability Studies

Studies funded under RFA Health Outcomes Research – Assessing the Health Outcomes of Air Quality Actions

 
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University of Michigan

This study will evaluate the National Clean Diesel Rebate Program, a lottery program that allocates available funding to school districts across the United States to replace or retrofit old-technology diesel powered school buses. Adar and colleagues will compare student health and educational performance in districts with and without such funding.

 
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Carleton University, Canada

The investigators will develop and apply a source‐ and location-specific database of mortality benefits per ton emissions reduction of NOx and other pollutants. 

 
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McGill University, Canada

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McGill University, Canada

This study will focus on a coal ban and heat pump subsidy program in the Beijing, China, region. They are building on an existing panel study that is following about 966 people who live in 50 villages around Beijing. Half the villages are subject to the policy, the other half are not.

 
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Oregon State University

This study will assess the effects of emission-control measures on birth outcomes associated with traffic-related air pollution in Texas. Hystad and colleagues will evaluate air quality changes associated with national motor vehicle emissions regulations, as well as a diverse array of local congestion reduction programs implemented in Texas over the past 25 years.

 
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Boston University

This study will evaluate the major national regulatory policies that were implemented in China from 2008–2018. The investigators will focus on regulations in particular regions that target specific sources, such as coal combustion, and how they have reduced ambient concentrations of fine particles (and their components).

 
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Emory University

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University of Rochester Medical Center

In this HEI-funded project, the investigators will build on their previous accountability analyses in Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles to characterize the health impacts of MV and EGU policy implementation.

 

COVID-19, Air Pollution, and Health Studies

HEI funded five different COVID-19 studies under RFA 20-1B. The first of these studies to be published, led by Zorana Jovanovic Andersen of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, is presented in Research Report 214. Studies in progress or under review are listed below. This research is taking place in the United States, Europe, and Asia and it focuses on two key areas:

  • Accountability studies: Evaluating how interventions to control the pandemic might have affected emissions, air pollution, and human health.
  • Susceptibility studies: Evaluating how air pollution exposure might affect the COVID-19 disease course, and how race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status might also play a role.

 
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Yale University

This multicountry study will evaluate whether changes in mortality are associated with changes in ambient NO2 and PM2.5 levels before, during, and after the lockdown and disentangle the short-term effects of NO2 versus PM2.5 on mortality. The analysis will be conducted in four countries: China, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

 
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University of California, Davis

This study will investigate the chronic and acute effects of air pollution exposure on COVID-19 incidence, mortality, and long-term complications, including onset of disease formation. Long- (2017−2018) and short- (2020) term exposures will be linked to a large medical records database in Southern California, with assessments at both the neighborhood and individual level.

 
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Columbia University

In this study the investigators will conduct a retrospective evaluation of the interactions between long-term exposure to air pollution and neighborhood vulnerability to adverse COVID-19 outcomes. They will investigate both single and multipollutant air pollution exposures in relation to COVID-19 hospitalization, inpatient length of stay, ICU admission, ventilator use, and death among a racially diverse population in New York City.

 
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Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Spain

This study will test whether long- or short-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of COVID-19 hospital admissions or mortality and identify vulnerable subgroups among 6 million residents of Catalonia, Spain. The investigators will link air pollution exposures to residents’ addresses and inpatient and outpatient electronic medical records.

Enhanced Exposure Studies

 
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Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Basel University, Switzerland

This study aims to improve our understanding of the contribution of individual mobility in air pollution exposure estimates. The investigators will use location tracking on a mobile phone application for 2,000 individuals in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

 
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Utrecht University, Netherlands

Hoek and colleagues will prepare maps of modeled annual average air pollution across the Netherlands, validate the maps using new measurements from over 100 sites, and evaluate the performance of several exposure models. The investigators will conduct cross-comparisons to evaluate how different exposure assessment methods compare in their ability to predict long-term pollutant concentrations, with a particular focus on spatial variability of pollutants.

 
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King's College London, United Kingdom

This study will investigate the consequences of measurement error on estimates of health effects of long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution in London by developing increasingly sophisticated exposure models.The investigators plan to compare exposure models that account for mobility, are based on exposure estimates at the residential address, and are based on concentrations measured at the nearest air pollution monitor.

 
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University of Washington

This study will compare and contrast scientific and logistical benefits of different approaches to air pollution exposure assessment. The investigators will leverage large air pollution datasets obtained from low-cost sensors, mobile monitoring, and passive samplers. They will apply the exposure assessment approaches to determine associations with cognitive decline and dementia incidence in an ongoing cohort study, Adult Changes in Thought Air Pollution (ACT-AP).

 
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McGill University, Canada

This study will evaluate health impacts of long-term exposures to traffic-related air pollution using exposure estimates from fixed-site and mobile measurement campaigns, as well as deep learning models, in Toronto and Montreal, Canada. The investigators will compare exposure estimates generated by these models to present-day and historical measurements, and to each other. 

Global Health Studies

 
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George Washington University

This study is estimating global ambient annual average NO2 concentrations and associated pediatric asthma at high spatial resolution (100m x 100m) for incorporation into the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD). The investigators will improve methods to estimate trends in surface NO2 concentrations from 1990 to 2018 and will update a systematic review of the epidemiological literature on NO2 and incidence of pediatric asthma to assess related worldwide burden of disease.

Quantifying Real-World Impacts of Non-Tailpipe Particulate Matter Emissions

 
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Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

In this study, participants with mild to moderate asthma will ride stationary bicycles on sidewalks in three London, UK environments (busy road characterized by stop-and-go traffic, high speed continuous traffic, and urban background) to measure how exposure to traffic with different mixtures of non-tailpipe and tailpipe emissions affects lung function of asthmatic adults.

 
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University of Toronto, Canada

This study will measure concentrations of non-tailpipe particulate matter across Toronto, Canada to determine how much non-tailpipe pollution people might breathe in everyday life and how to better measure these exposures in the future.

Traffic Exposure and Health Studies

Studies funded under RFA 13-1, Improving Assessement of Near-Road Exposure to Traffic Related Pollution, and RFA 17-1, Assessing Adverse Health Effects of Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Noise, and Their Interactions With Socio-Economic Status.

 
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ISGlobal, Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain

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ISGlobal, Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain

In this study, the investigators will recruit pregnant women in Barcelona and assess the effects of in-utero exposure to traffic-related pollution on birth weight, fetal growth trajectories, and placental function for each pregnancy. The investigators will estimate exposure to several pollutants and transportation noise and evaluate the roles of socioeconomic status, green space, physical activity, diet, and stress.

 
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University of Southern California

This study will assess the effects of metals from nontailpipe emissions on asthma and lung function in the most recent cohort of the Children’s Health Study in Southern California (recruited during 2002-2012), using available filters with particulate matter samples. The investigators will estimate exposure to several pollutants and transportation noise and evaluate the roles of socioeconomic status, green space, physical activity, diet, and stress.

 
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Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark

This study will assess myocardial infarction, stroke, diabetes, and biomarkers related to cardiovascular disease and diabetes in three large Danish cohorts.  The investigators will estimate exposure to several pollutants and transportation noise and evaluate the roles of socioeconomic status, green space, physical activity, diet, and stress.

Wildland Fires and Agricultural Burning Studies

 
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Yale University

This study is investigating risk of birth outcomes and perinatal mortality from fire-related PM2.5. The interdisciplinary team is developing fire modeling methods to estimate PM2.5 specifically from fires for Australia with improved fire emissions inventories and Lagrangian modeling.

 
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Georgia Institute of Technology

The objectives of this study are to: 1) Estimate the contributions of prescribed burning to both fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) levels in the Southeastern US; 2) Quantify the effects of prescribed fire smoke on rates of emergency department (ED) visits; and 3) Assess how the observed health impacts vary across strata defined by age, sex, and socioeconomic markers.

Walter A. Rosenblith Award

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 Harvard University

Dr. Nethery’s study seeks to develop statistical methods for characterizing spatial and racial and ethnic variation in health effects associated with exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) across the United States, and to design potential policies for reducing PM2.5-attributable health inequities.

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Columbia University

Dr. Ornelas Van Horne’s study seeks to advance a community-academic partnership with Missouri Breaks Industries Research (an American Indian-owned research center serving Indigenous communities and others in North and South Dakota) and Columbia University to characterize sources of air pollution and identify community-driven solutions through an emissions reduction plan.

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University of Colorado, Boulder

This New Investigator Award study will investigate whether prenatal and/or early-life exposure to air pollutants affects the infant gut microbiota and fecal metabolome, thereby altering infant growth trajectories in the first two years of life. Dr. Alderete plans to study this in an ongoing longitudinal cohort of Hispanic mother-infant pairs in California with existing validated clinical assessments of infant growth trajectories. She will also use gut microbial profiling and high-resolution fecal metabolomics profiles to understand the mechanisms underlying the obesogenic effects of air pollutants in early life.

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University of Copenhagen, Denmark

This New Investigator Award study seeks to provide novel exposure–response functions for the effects of long-term exposure to ultrafine particles on several mortality and morbidity outcomes, while adjusting for exposures to other traffic-related air pollutants, road traffic noise, and socioeconomic status. The study makes use of a new Danish cohort of 650,000 adults.

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University of Florida

This New Investigator Award study seeks to develop statistical methodology that allows for complex relationships between air pollution and health outcomes to be used to estimate causal effects of multivariate exposures. Additionally, the proposed methodology will allow for evaluation of separate subgroups in the population to identify the most vulnerable subgroups.

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University of Massachusetts, Amherst

This New Investigator Award study seeks to examine associations of long-term maternal exposures to PM2.5, NO2, and environmental noise with adverse birth outcomes in Accra, Ghana. The investigators also seek to determine the effect of these exposures on the risk of lower respiratory infections in infants.

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George Mason University

The primary objective of this Walter A. Rosenblith New Investigator Award study is to create fine-scale daily PM2.5 source impacts from major source and fuel categories from 2011-2020. This objective builds on recent work developing fine-scale daily air pollution exposure products in the United States, which have driven recent epidemiological studies on air pollution health effects.

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University of Southern California

This New Investigator Award study is evaluating how fine-particle exposure affects the development of prefrontal connections and emotional behaviors during the transition from childhood to adolescence and whether this, in turn, contributes to greater risk for neuropsychiatric disorders.

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University of Copenhagen, Denmark

This New Investigator Award study will evaluate whether air pollution is associated with increased incidence of asthma in 3 cohorts in Denmark.