Helen Suh

Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Exposure Assessment

Department of Environmental Health

Department of Environmental Health

401 Park Drive
Landmark Building, 4th Floor West, 404G
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Phone: 617.384.8805


My research examines critical questions about the public health consequences of air pollution through inter-disciplinary, biologically-relevant exposure assessment research. Specifically, my research combines traditional measurement methods with novel exposure assessment methods to advance how we think about air pollutant sources, exposures and health effects. In this effort, my research has four fundamental focuses, first to identify and apportion important air pollutant sources, second to show how individual behaviors modify air pollutant concentrations and through this their health impacts, third to use new exposure measures and approaches to examine source-specific impacts on biological pathways and to identify susceptible populations, and finally to develop GIS-based spatial smoothing methods to predict air pollutant concentrations for locations or for times when few air pollution measurements are available. Through these foci, my research has helped establish causality in pollutant exposure-health associations, offering physical explanations for the observed heterogeneity in particle-mediated health risks and for the differences in susceptibility among individuals. Scientific knowledge of this type is essential to identify the sources of ambient air pollution most important to public health.


SB, 1985, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MS, 1990, Harvard School of Public Health
ScD, 1993, Harvard School of Public Health

Selected Publications

• Sarnat JA, Schwartz J, Catalano PJ, Suh HH. Gaseous Pollutants in Particulate Matter Epidemiology: Confounders or Surrogates? Environmental Health Perspectives, 2001; 109:1053-61.

• Janssen NAH, Schwartz J, Zanobetti A, Suh HH. Air Conditioning and Source-Specific Particles as Modifiers of the Effect of PM10 on Hospital Admissions for Heart and Lung Disease. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2002; 110:43-9.

• Wheeler A, Zanobetti A, Gold DR, Schwartz J, Stone P, Suh HH. The Relationship between Ambient Air Pollution and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Differs for Individuals with Heart and Pulmonary Disease. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006; 114:(4)560-6.

• Sarnat SE, Ruiz PA, Coull BA, Koutrakis P, Suh HH. The Influences of Ambient Particle Composition and Size on Particle Infiltration in Los Angeles, CA residences. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 2006; 56:186-96.

• Dubowsky SD, Suh HH, Coull BA, Schwartz J, Gold DR. Diabetes, Obesity, and Hypertension May Enhance the Acute Inflammatory Response to Air Pollution. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006; 114(7):992-8.

• Sarnat SE, Suh HH, Coull BA, Schwartz J, Stone PH, Gold DR. Ambient Particulate Air Pollution and Cardiac Arrhythmia in a Panel of Senior Adults in Steubenville, OH. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 2006; 63(10):700-6.

• Adar SD, Gold DR, Coull BA, Schwartz J, Stone PH, Suh HH. Focused Exposures to Airborne Traffic Particles and Heart Rate Variability in the Elderly. Epidemiology, 2007; 18(1):95-103.

• Adar SD, Adamkiewicz G, Gold DR, Schwartz J, Coull BA, Suh HH. Ambient and Micro-Environmental Particles on Exhaled Nitric Oxide before and after a Group Bus Trip. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2007; 115(4):507-512.

• Gryparis A, Coull BA, Schwartz J, Suh HH. Semiparametric Regression Models for Spatio-Temporal Modeling of Mobile Source Particles in the Greater Boston Area. Applied Statistics, 2007; 56 (Part 2), 183-209.

• Yanosky J, Paciorek C, Schwartz J, Laden F, Puett R, Suh H. Spatio-Temporal Modeling of Chronic PM10 Exposure for the Nurses’ Health Study. Atmospheric Environment 2008; 42: 4047-4062.

• Yanosky JD, Schwartz J, Suh HH. Associations Between Measures of Socioeconomic Position and Chronic Nitrogen Dioxide Exposure in Worcester, Massachusetts. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 2008; 71:24, 1593-1602.

• Puett R, Schwartz J, Hart JE, Yanosky JD, Speizer FE, Suh H, Paciorek C, Neas L, Laden F. Chronic Particulate Exposure, Mortality and Coronary Heart Disease in the Nurses’ Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology 2008; doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn232

• Yanosky J, Paciorek C, Suh HH. Development of spatio-temporal models for fine and coarse particles in the eastern US. Environ. Health Perspectives in press.

• Zanobetti A, Stone PH, Speizer FE, Schwartz JD, Coull BA, Suh H, Nearing BC, Mittleman MA, Verrier RL, Gold DR. T-wave alternans, air pollution and traffic in high-risk subjects. American Journal of Cardiology in press.

• Puett R, Hart JE, Yanosky J, Paciorek CJ, Schwartz J, Suh H, Speizer FE, Laden F. Chronic fine and coarse particulate exposure, mortality and coronary heart disease in the Nurses’ Health Study. Environ. Health Perspect. in press.