2016 Progress Report: Project 4: Human Health Impacts of Energy Transitions: Today and Under a Changing World

EPA Grant Number: R835871C004
Subproject: this is subproject number 004 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R835871
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Solutions for Energy, AiR, Climate and Health Center (SEARCH)
Center Director: Bell, Michelle L.
Title: Project 4: Human Health Impacts of Energy Transitions: Today and Under a Changing World
Investigators: Bell, Michelle L. , Deziel, Nicole Cardello , Peng, Roger D. , Son, Jiyoung , Storelvmo, Trude , Zhang, Yawei
Institution: Yale University , The Johns Hopkins University
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2020
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2015 through September 30,2016
RFA: Air, Climate And Energy (ACE) Centers: Science Supporting Solutions (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air , Climate Change


Decision-makers who protect health from air pollution are faced with complex systems involving multiple emission sources, variation in health response by population and region, and temporal changes such as climate change and economic development. The overall goal of Project 4 is to provide scientific evidence to aid sound policy by investigating: (1) factors that could influence air pollution-health associations, including modifiable factors and factors that could account for regional variability in observed associations (e.g., urbanicity, land-use), for PM2.5 and O3 on risk of cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions, including understudied rural populations; (2) health impacts from energy transitions using the most up-to-date scientific information on the multipollutant mixture, regional variation, and sensitive subpopulations; and (3) how climate change could affect health impacts of energy transitions and the co-benefits/costs of air quality policies by calculating their climate change impact.

Progress Summary:

We have accomplished several key tasks related to Project 1 and this report highlights key accomplishments. We are investigating factors that could influence air pollution-health associations, such as long-term temporal trends in the short-term effects of PM2.5 on hospital admissions in the United States. We are examining the temporal trend of the association between short-term exposure (i.e., a day or a few days) to PM2.5 total mass and risk of hospital admissions for adults > 65 years using Medicare billing records, to examine if this association changes over time. In particular, we examine the relationship of this trend with observed change in particulate matter composition and changes in population and community characteristics. To date, we have performed preliminary analysis with Bayesian hierarchical modeling to estimate the county-specific temporal trend of association between PM2.5 health effect estimates and risk of cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions for an older population.

We have begun two systematic reviews and meta-analyses to investigate which subpopulations are most vulnerable or susceptible to environmental conditions, including air pollution and temperature. Weather impacts on human mortality are a critical public health concern with respect to climate change. We are assessing the sensitivity of subpopulations to weather-mortality associations in previously published literature, and have conducted a systematic search using a MEDLINE/PubMed database for population-based studies of exposure to heat or high temperature, cold, and heat waves. We selected studies meeting the following inclusion criteria: (1) population-based; (2) consider exposure to heat or high temperature, cold, heat waves; (3) explore mortality; (4) report results on effect modification (e.g., by region, population, and temporal trend, men/women, socio-economic status (SES)); and (5) peer-reviewed and published in English from 1980 to 2015. Both single-city and multicity studies are included. Our preliminary searches identified 50,776 studies, which we are in the processing of screening. Currently, we have identified over 600 articles for full-text screening.

We also are conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of published epidemiological studies that considered sex as an effect modifier for the health effects of short-term exposure to NO2. In this work, we summarize the approaches used in earlier identified studies and calculate overall estimates. We have conducted preliminary systematic searches for epidemiologic studies on short-term exposure to NO2 and risk of mortality, hospital admissions, or emergency room visits. Of our initial preliminary search, we identified 1,351 papers, including some duplicates, with 44 studies remaining after exclusion criteria. We are currently conducting preliminary analysis and updating the literature search with more recent articles.

Future Activities:

Project 4 will continue work towards successful completion of the specific objectives. Many of these aims involve coordination with the other projects. Other work includes systematic reviews and meta-analyses and investigations of which modifiable factors and subpopulations are most relevant for different air pollution-health associations in the present day and under a changing climate. We also will continue our close coordinated efforts with the Units. We will work closely with the Quantitative Methods Unit regarding biostatical analysis and with the Policy and Decision Making Facility Support Unit regarding policy actions that could impact PM2.5.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 2 publications 2 publications in selected types All 2 journal articles
Other center views: All 5 publications 2 publications in selected types All 2 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Bravo MA, Anthopolos R, Bell ML, Miranda ML. Racial isolation and exposure to airborne particulate matter and ozone in understudied US populations: environmental justice applications of downscaled numerical model output. Environment International 2016;92-93:247-255. R835871 (2016)
R835871C004 (2016)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: ScienceDirect-Full Text HTML
  • Other: ScienceDirect-PDF
  • Journal Article Bravo MA, Ebisu K, Dominici F, Wang Y Peng RD, Bell ML. Airborne fine particles and risk of hospital admissions for understudied populations:effects by urbanicity and short-term cumulative exposures in 708 US counties. Environmental Health Perspectives 2017;125(4):594-601. R835871 (2016)
    R835871C004 (2016)
    R833863 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Full-text: EHP-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: EHP-Abstract & Full Text HTML
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Ambient air, atmosphere, dose-response, elderly, epidemiology, ethnic groups, global climate, race/ethnicity, risk assessment, susceptibility

    Relevant Websites:

    SEARCH (Solutions for Energy, Air, Climate, & Health) Center | Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract

    Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R835871    Solutions for Energy, AiR, Climate and Health Center (SEARCH)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R835871C001 Project 1: Modeling Emissions from Energy Transitions
    R835871C002 Project 2: Assessment of Energy-Related Sources, Factors and Transitions Using Novel High-Resolution Ambient Air Monitoring Networks and Personal Monitors
    R835871C003 Project 3: Air Quality and Climate Change Modeling: Improving Projections of the Spatial and Temporal Changes of Multipollutants to Enhance Assessment of Public Health in a Changing World
    R835871C004 Project 4: Human Health Impacts of Energy Transitions: Today and Under a Changing World