Air Pollution-Exposure-Health Effect Indicators: Mining Massive Geographically-Referenced Environmental Health Data to Identify Risk Factors for Birth DefectsEPA Grant Number: R834790
Title: Air Pollution-Exposure-Health Effect Indicators: Mining Massive Geographically-Referenced Environmental Health Data to Identify Risk Factors for Birth Defects
Investigators: Zhan, F. Benjamin , Brender, Jean D. , Langlois, Peter H. , Yang, Jing
Institution: Texas State University , Texas A & M University , Texas Department of State Health Services , University of North Carolina at Charlotte
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: February 1, 2011 through January 31, 2014 (Extended to January 31, 2015)
Project Amount: $499,987
RFA: Exploring Linkages Between Health Outcomes and Environmental Hazards, Exposures, and Interventions for Public Health Tracking and Risk Management (2009) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Health
Existing environmental public health indicators do not adequately address the relationships among air pollution, exposure, and health effects. This project aims to fill this gap. It develops and uses air pollution exposure assessment methods, visual data mining tools, and epidemiological analysis procedures to define new environmental public health indicators that cover three components (air pollution, exposure, and health effects) in the hazards-exposure-health effects-intervention paradigm. These new indicators are called “Air Pollution-Exposure-Health Effect Indicators.” The researchers will use air pollutants emitted from industrial facilities and birth defects data in Texas to develop and evaluate the new indicators.
Research activities of this project are divided into four investigational areas: air pollution exposure assessment, visual geospatial data mining, epidemiological analysis, and new environmental public health indicator development. The project will:
(1) develop a new air pollution exposure assessment method that can be used to determine geographic concentrations of air pollutants more accurately (compared with existing methods) in large geographic areas;
(2) link birth defects data and air pollution data using geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial analysis methods;
(3) enhance recently developed visual data mining methods to identify risk factors that are most likely to be associated with certain types of birth defects from the linked data;
(4) perform epidemiological analyses to validate whether the identified risk factors are indeed associated with some birth defects; and
(5) explore how to use the procedures and methods developed in this project to define the new indicators.
The project will generate new environmental public health indicators that cover three components (air pollution, exposure, and health effects). In addition, it will produce a set of enhanced methods for air pollution exposure assessment and environmental risk factor identification. These new indicators and enhanced methods will help us better understand the relationships among air pollution, environmental exposure, and health effects. Therefore, results from this project will increase our ability to protect the environment and ultimately improve public health.