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Your Environment. Your Health.

Think Globally, Breathe Locally: Sensing Air Pollution for a Planet of Cities

NIEHS Exposure Science and the Exposome Webinar Series
February 13, 2019

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Literature on Exposome

View a list of publications related to the exposome in PubMed.


The NIEHS Strategic Plan places a significant emphasis on transforming exposure science through the development of new approaches to exposure assessment, the definition and dissemination of the exposome concept, and the development and demonstration of the exposome as a tool for both epidemiological and mechanistic research. In order to achieve this goal, NIEHS launched the Exposure Science and the Exposome Webinar Series on April 4, 2014 to foster discussions on international efforts in advancing exposure science and the exposome concept as well as challenges and opportunities in incorporating this concept in environmental health research.


Air pollution is the leading global environmental risk for premature death and a persistent cause of health disparities in US cities. Future choices about energy and transportation will have profound impacts on how the levels and spatial patterns of air pollution evolve. Yet widespread gaps in our current air measurement infrastructure hinder our understanding of what we breathe. Here, I highlight two highly scalable approaches for understanding how urban air pollution varies in space and time, locally and globally. First, using satellite remote sensing observations, I show how fine particle concentrations have evolved year-by-year in every city on the planet over the past two decades, resulting in a striking divergence in air quality among low- and high-income nations. Second, l present a new approach for developing exceptionally high-resolution air quality maps for urban areas using specially instrumented Google Street View cars. With data from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, I demonstrate how air pollution varies sharply within our cities and neighborhoods — and the insights these data reveal for designing healthier urban environments.

About the Speaker

Joshua Apte is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His research group uses field measurements, mathematical models and large datasets to understand the relationships between air pollution emissions, population exposure, environmental justice and human health. Previously, Dr. Apte was the inaugural ITRI-Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Fulbright-Nehru fellow at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He holds a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley and earned his Sc.B. from Brown University.

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