Air Pollution and Health

Air pollution is the leading risk factor among all risks in the global burden of diseases. Our research utilizes time-series and case-crossover designs to assess the adverse health effects of short-term exposure to air pollutants and their interactions with extreme temperatures from a local to global scale. Our recent work sheds light on the effect of ambient ultrafine particles on nonfatal heart attacks, the link between ambient particulate matter pollution and increased mental health outpatient visits, and the adverse mortality effects of ambient carbon monoxide at levels well below the current air quality guidelines. Our ongoing and future work will further address the health effects of both short-term and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and the interactive effects of combined exposure to air pollution and extreme weather events.

Cardiovascular effects of short-term exposure to ambient particulate air pollution

This study shows that transient (6-12 hours) exposure to particle number, length, and surface area concentrations or other potentially related exposures may trigger the onset of nonfatal myocardial infraction.

Chen, et al. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2020

Mental health effects of ambient air pollution

This study shows more ambient particulate matter pollution could be linked to higher rates of mental health service utilization.

Lowe, et al. Environ Res, 2020.

Even “safe” ambient CO levels may harm health

In collaboration with the Multi-Country Multi-City (MCC) Collaborative Research Network, using data collected from 337 cities across 18 countries from 1979 to 2016, we found that even short-term exposure to ambient carbon monoxide (CO) — at levels below the current air quality guidelines and considered safe — had an association with increased mortality.

Chen et al. The Lancet Planetary Health, 2021.

Interactive health effects of air pollution and temperature

This study reveals that high temperature could enhance the harmful effects of air pollution and high air pollution could also modify heat effects on mortality.

Chen et al. Environment International, 2018