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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.

person directing traffic wearing a face mask
  • Low levels of air pollution
  • Traffic-related air pollution: exposure and health
  • Non-tailpipe emissions and exposures near roadways and in tunnels
  • Effectiveness of air quality interventions (Accountability)
  • Mechanistic studies of air pollution and health
  • Rosenblith Award New Investigators
  • Statistical methods development
  • Ongoing Studies

    Accountability Studies

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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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    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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    University of California, Los Angeles

    The investigators are evaluating the effects on air quality and health associated with the CARB’s Emission Reduction Plan for Ports and Goods Movement. They are examining the changes in criteria and hazardous air pollutants and characterize health outcomes (costs, ER visits and hospitalization for asthma) among Medicaid beneficiaries.

    New Investigator Studies - Walter A. Rosenblith Award

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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 Texas–Austin

    This New Investigator Award study will measure air pollutants in intensive campaigns with Google Street View cars in Oakland and Delhi and compare exposure estimates to conventional methods.

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    University of Texas-Austin

    This New Investigator Award study is evaluating changes in different types of RNA molecules inside cells after exposure to ozone and carbonyls.

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    East Carolina University

    This New Investigator Award study is evaluating whether injury after exposure to ozone is mediated through changes in the lung and blood of levels of oxidized phospholipids. This will be tested in normal mice and in mice genetically lacking the Scavenger Receptor B1 that binds oxidized phospholipids.

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    ISGlobal, Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Barcelona, Spain

    This New Investigator Award study will evaluate whether prenatal air pollution exposure at different time windows is associated with development of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and whether prenatal and postnatal air pollution exposure is associated with changes in brain structure and function in children. Dr. Guxens hypothesizes that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may be related to an increased risk of ASDs, but not with an increased risk of autistic traits (subclinical deficits that do not meet formal criteria for autism spectrum disorder diagnosis).

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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.

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    University of California, Irvine

    This New Investigator Study investigates the mechanisms of formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by different types of secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), distinguishing between ROS formed by pollutants entering lung lining fluid (chemically) and by macrophages producing ROS as an inflammatory response (biologically). He will measure concentrations of ROS in epithelial lung lining fluid in macrophages exposed to SOA produced in a reaction chamber, with or without transition metals, using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy with a spin trapping technique or a chemiluminescence assay. 

    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.

    Epidemiology Studies

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    University of British Columbia, Canada

    This study will investigate mortality effects of low levels of air pollution in Canada using Canadian Census data from about 6 million people. The shape of the exposure-response function will be characterized using newly developed flexible non-linear exposure-response functions. See also this Program Summary of HEI's research program on low levels of air pollution. 

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    University of Utrecht

    This study will investigate health effects of low levels of air pollution in Europe using pooled data from 10 ESCAPE cohorts with individual covariate information, and 6 large administrative cohorts with less detailed information; resulting in a study population of about 25 million people. See also this Program Summary of HEI's research program on low levels of air pollution. 

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    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

    This study will examine health effects of low levels of air pollution in the US using data from about ~56 million people enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, they will develop new causal modeling methods to characterize the shape of the exposure-response function. See also this Program Summary of HEI's research program on low levels of air pollution. 

    Multiple Pollutant Epidemiology Studies

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    Drexel University

    This study will quantify relationships between chronic and acute exposures to multiple pollutant exposures in New York City, and test whether associations with cardiovascular disease outcomes vary by community socio-economic position or  stressor exposures.

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    Utrecht University, Netherlands

    This is a large cohort study investigating long-term air pollution and cause-specific mortality in Asia, using pooled data from multiple cohorts in the Asia Cohort Consortium.

    Traffic Exposure and Health Studies

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    Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

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    Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

    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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    North Carolina State University

    This study is exploring how traffic activity metrics, land-use parameters, and transport of pollutants influence the near-road concentrations measured through extensive sampling campaigns.

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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.