Professor of Environmental Epidemiology
Chair, Department of Environmental Health
Dr. Dockery and his colleagues have studied the health effects of air pollution exposures in populations who have been followed for up to twenty-five years. That research has increasingly pointed to combustion-related particles as being causally linked to increased morbidity and mortality even at the relatively low concentrations observed in developed countries today. Dr. Dockery and his colleagues have reported that episodes of particulate air pollution are consistently associated with increased daily mortality, increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits, exacerbation of asthma, increased respiratory symptoms and lower lung function. Long-term follow-up studies have shown particulate air pollution is associated with shortened life expectancy in adults and increased chronic respiratory illness and lower lung function in children. This research has led to the current debate on the role of particulate air pollution in producing adverse effect effects and to the re-evaluation of air quality standards both nationally and internationally.
Dr. Dockery’s current research is attempting to more specifically identify the chemical and physical characteristics of those particles responsible for the observed adverse health effects. Current studies also are attempting to understand the pathways of acute cardiovascular events associated with air pollution exposure and to link these epidemiologic finding with toxicologic studies of particle effects. He also is assessing the health benefits of air pollution controls.
In addition, the methods developed to assess air pollution health effects epidemiologically are being applied to other environmental hazards including contamination of water supplies.