Gijs van Seventer Environmental Health Seminar


Adaptations for the Future: Minimizing Climate Change Effects on Health

Changes to the Earth’s climate have and will continue to result in severe global and local consequences including increasing precipitation, sea-level rise, flooding, drought, air pollution, food and water shortage, and extreme weather events such as heat waves.  Addressing the health impacts of these environmental changes requires the complementary approaches of mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation involves measures to reduce emissions and stabilize the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in an effort to curb the trajectory of climate change. In contrast, adaptation focuses on anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and acting appropriately to prevent and/or minimize their impacts. This seminar series will introduce some of the adaptive responses aimed at protecting the public’s health from the environmental impacts of climate change, including infrastructure innovation and urban planning, extreme weather event surveillance and preparedness, improvements to food and water systems, and localized climate action planning. Seminar speakers will include experts in environmental health, sustainability, engineering, economics, policy, and government who will discuss human health hazards connected to climate change and the prevention and reduction of these consequences through adaptation.

Click here to view the Fall 2017 Seminar Schedule

Join us from 12:45 to 1:45 in room L-210

December 1: 


Seyoung Chloe Chung, MPH and Lindsey Butler, MSc 

Environmental Health Doctoral Students


Seminar Title (Chloe):  The Impact of Aviation Emissions on Ultrafine Particle (UFP) Concentrations in Communities at Varying Distances from Flight Paths

Seminar Summary: Communities living near airports are potentially affected by increased exposures to aviation-related emissions, such as ultrafine particles (UFPs), due to the high emission rates from aircraft as well as concentrated flight paths.  Multiple studies have shown aircraft arrivals’ contribution to ambient UFP concentrations over large regions, but few studies have had the necessary monitoring infrastructure to accurately evaluate the magnitude and spatial extent of its impact. Traffic-related UFPs have a strong temporal and spatial variation and are known to decrease as a function of distance from roadways. However, the dispersion patterns of UFPs emitted from arrival aircraft are not yet well understood. Our study was designed to better answer some of the questions related to arrival aircraft plume dynamics and its impact on ambient UFP concentrations by utilizing data with high temporal and spatial resolution. In this study, we collected real-time UFP and BC measurements along with local meteorological data from April to September of 2017 at six monitoring sites that are at varying distances from Boston Logan International Airport and from one of the major arrival flight paths (4R) to Logan. In addition, real-time 3-D flight location data (latitude, longitude, and altitude) were obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the purpose of source attribution. Our study results can be used to evaluate the impact of aircraft arrivals’ impact on population exposures.

Seminar Title (Lindsey):  The Utility of the Case-Crossover Design for Epidemiologic Study of Climate Change Related Exposures

Seminar Summary: Historically, case-crossover studies have been implemented in the pharmacoepidemiology literature to examine the outcomes of patients who experience both placebo and treatment phases of a drug trial. The design is based on case-control methods but the analysis includes only cases, comparing the experience of the case under one condition with the same case under a different condition. Environmental epidemiology has recently begun borrowing this study design to characterize the effects of transient exposures on acute outcomes. Examples in this context include studies of air pollution and acute cardiovascular events. Our work uses this design to examine the association between apparent temperature and risk of preterm birth, preeclampsia, and stillbirth while also examining the joint effects of air pollution. Under our study design each case mother serves as her own control virtually eliminating the threat of confounding.
This seminar will include an introduction to case-crossover design and a short summary of our proposed work using this design in studying the effects of temperature on pregnancy. In closing we will discuss other examples of climate change related exposures (severe storms and their repercussions, wild fires, droughts) and how we might be able to study their health effects using the case-crossover design.
Recommended Reading: Maclure, M. The Case-Crossover Design: A Method for Studying Transient Effects on the Risk of Acute Events. Am J Epidemiology. 1991 Jan 15; 133(2): 144-53.

Contact: Jean van Seventer