Environmental Epidemiology

Environmental_cars_smogGlobally, nearly 25 % of all deaths and the total disease burden can be attributed to environmental factors, and the number is as high as 35% in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. Environment factors are ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives, from the air we breathe to the water we drink to the foods we consume. Climate change is projected to impact sea levels, patterns of infectious diseases, air quality, and the severity of natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and storms. Every year, hundreds of new chemicals are introduced, which may become sources of environmental pollution. Poor air quality is linked to premature deaths, various cancers, adverse birth outcomes, and long-term damage to respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Progress has been made to reduce unhealthy air
emission; however, in 2008 approximately 127 million Measuring water quality_1people lived in U.S. counties that exceeded national air quality standards. Specific to the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area, ten counties have not met the EPA ozone attainment regulations for over five years.

In response faculty at the UNTHSC have been conducting research in critical areas of environmental exposures and health outcomes. Dr. Candace Robledo has examined the impact of air pollution on the risk of gestational diabetes (GDM). Dr. Subhash Aryal works on novel statistical methods for environmental monitoring. Dr. Alisa Rich focuses on blood disorders and epigenetic changes in DNA from environmental exposure, such as adverse health effects of anemia and specifically hypoxia leading to pain events in Sickle Cell patients. Dr. David Sterling is working on developing tools and methods for near-real time crowd sourcing of neighborhood level environmental measurements to assess personal and community exposure and health outcomes. He also developed an initiative to improve the management of asthma through school-based identification called Asthma 411, which is presently being trialed in the DFW area through funding from the UNTHSC Institute for Patient Safety. Dr. Joon Lee’s research efforts focus on developing vector-borne infectious disease models to better predict occurrences of human cases, and he works closely with local health departments to develop and implement appropriate practices to reduce human cases of vector-borne infectious diseases, including West Nile virus and Zika virus.

This page was last modified on February 8, 2017