Environmental Health

Environmental exposures in the home environment and COPD exacerbation
Raphael Arku University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA
COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is among the leading causes of death in the U.S. and costs billions in healthcare cost, with most of the costs due to hospital readmissions from exacerbation of existing COPD. Although environmental exposures are known to worsen COPD symptoms, limited studies exist on preventable environmental triggers. Compared to the vast data linking environmental tobacco smoke and ambient air pollution, little is known about other environmental exposures in the home environment and the risk of COPD exacerbation. Since COPD patients spend more time at home than their healthy counterparts, addressing triggers in the home environment will improve quality of life for patients and reduce healthcare cost, a win-win situation for both healthcare providers and patients. Our long-term goal is to identify, quantify, and ultimately intervene on factors in the home environment that may trigger exacerbation of existing COPD. Being preliminary in nature, this proposal aims to: 1) establish local partnerships with community-based organizations and health researchers; and 2) generate a pilot data for future grant submission to conduct intervention study in Western Massachusetts communities that are disproportionately affected by high rates of COPD, and by poor COPD control. Future intervention studies following this pilot would provide avenues for cost-effective and novel management of a disease with limited treatment options

Assessing Capacity for Deployments of Data and Technology in Public Engagements with Oil and Gas Pipeline Projects
Kirk Jalbert Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
Oil and gas pipelines are a new flashpoint in an environmental movement mobilizing against the fossil fuel industry. However, knowledge gaps and power asymmetries can prevent communities from making sense of these large-scale infrastructure projects. One response is the rise of advocacy coalitions developing resources and expertise to contest official impact assessments of pipelines, where obtaining, analyzing, and mobilizing around environmental and public health data is a cornerstone of their mobilizing strategies. The objective of this study is to understand the nature of these technical practices, how such practices inform legal and political campaigns, and the extent to which their enactment furthermore shapes coalition member’s understanding of environmental and public health issues pertaining to pipelines. This study is intellectually significant in its potential to identify how unique forms of public engagement in regulatory processes may reduce the environmental and public health risks of large-scale infrastructure projects, as well as create pathways for a more educated public.