Particulate Matter and Other Air Pollutants Core

Director: Jaime Hart, SM, ScD  

Jaime Hart

Developing exposure tools and applying them to environmental health studies has been a hallmark of the Harvard Chan-NIEHS Center research program. A key historical example is the Center’s development of fine particle (PM2.5) monitoring. The application of these monitors to assess community PM2.5 exposures supported the Harvard Six Cities and American Cancer Society Studies; seminal studies that established the scientific basis for regulating PM2.5 and seeded a vast research initiative.  The Particulate Matter and Other Air Pollutants Core continues this tradition of groundbreaking research to this day.

Highlights: Understanding population exposures and risks and providing exposure data for population-based epidemiologic studies is an ongoing challenge. Understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of air pollution exposure down to the residential level offers important opportunities for improved exposure assessment in population-based epidemiologic studies, documenting exposures, empowering disadvantaged communities, and improving environmental interventions and policy.

In a highly innovative collaboration, the Particles Core brought together a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional team from the IHSFC and the ESBC to develop comprehensive, fine-scale (1km) daily estimates of PM2.5, NO2, and ozone exposures as a resource for population-based studies and the community. These estimates have been used in several highly influential analyses of the health effects of air pollution, including among the nationwide Medicare population.  Working with the GCMC and ESBC, the Core continues to update these models and make them available for investigators interested in air pollution epidemiology or exposure research. The Particles Core also worked with other components of the Center to develop the Harvard Chan-NIEHS Nanosafety Research Center, which works to understand the unique properties and toxicology of engineered nanomaterials—beneficial and harmful.  Facilities are available through the Nanosafety Research Center for evaluation of exposures to nanoparticles.

The productivity and leadership of the Harvard-NIEHS Center in assessing the exposures, the health effects, and the policy implications of airborne particles and other air pollutants highlights the importance of the multidisciplinary approach made possible by the Center.  We welcome new members, and encourage you to apply for Center membership if you’d like to be involved in this exciting area of research, or need help getting started.  Below are some selected examples of the breadth of research underway by Core investigators.

Recent publications by Core investigators

  • Yitshak-Sade M, Nethery R, Schwartz JD, Mealli F, Dominici F, Di Q, Abu Awad Y, Ifergane F, Zanobetti A. PM2.5 and hospital admissions amont Medicare enrollees with chronic debilitating brain disorders. Sci Total Envron. 2021: 755(Pt 2):142525. PMID: 33065503.
  • Wei Y, Wang Y, Wu X, Di Q, Shi L, Koutrakis P, Zanobetti A, Dominici F, Schwartz JD. Causal effects of air pollution on mortality rate in Massachusetts. Am J Epidemiol. 2020: 189(11): 1316-1323. PMID: 32558888.
  • Shi l, Wu X, Danesh Yazdi M, Braun D, Abu Awar Y, Wei Y, Lui P, Di Q, Wang Y, Schwartz JD, Dominici F, Kioumourtzoglou MA, Zanobetti A. Long-term effects of PM2.5 on neurological disorders in the American Medicate population: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet Planet Health. 2020: 4(12): e557-e565. PMID: 33091388.
  • Osgood RS, Tashiro H, Kadahara DI, Yeliseyev V, Bry L, Shore SA. Gut microbiota from androgen-altered donors alter pulmonary responses to ozone in female mice. Physiol Rep. 2020: 8(19): e14584. PMID: 33052618.
  • Gaskins AJ, Mínguez-Alarcón L, Williams PL, Chavarro JE, Schwartz JD, Kloog I, Souter I, Hauser R, Laden F; EARTH Study Team. Ambient air pollution and risk of pregnancy loss among women undergoing assisted reproduction. Environ Res. 2020:191: 110201. PMID: 32937174.
  • Yitshak-Sade M, Lane KJ, Fabian MP, Kloog I, Hart JE, Davis B, Fong KC, Schwartz JD, Laden F, Zanobetti A.Race or racial segregation? Modification of the PM2.5 and cardiovascular mortality association. PLoS One. 2020:15(7): e0236479. PMID: 32716950.
  • Cserbik D, Chen JC, McConnell R, Berhane K, Sowell ER, Schwartz J, Hackman DA, Kan E, Fan CC, Herting MM. Fine particulate matter exposure during childhood relates to hemispheric-specific differences in brain structure. Environ Int. 2020: 143:105933. PMID: 32659528.
  • Peralta AA, Link MS, Schwartz J, Luttmann-Gibson H, Dockery DW, Blomberg A, Wei Y, Mittleman MA, Gold DR, Laden F, Coull BA, Koutrakis P. Exposure to air pollution and particle radioactivity with the risk of ventricular arrhythmias. Circulation. 2020: 142(9): 858-867. PMID: 32795087.
  • Wang X, Hart JE, Liu Q, Wu S, Nan H, Laden F. Association of particulate matter air pollution with leukocyte mitochondrial DNA copy number. Environ Int. 2020: 141:105761. PMID: 32388147.

See the full list of air pollution research by Center members.

Do you have a question?  Fill out the form on our ‘Contact Us’ page and click ‘Research Core – Particulate Matter and Other Air Pollutants’.