Portrait image Rima Habre
Rima Habre, Sc.D., has environmental health degrees from the American University of Beirut, the Harvard Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (Photo courtesy of Rima Habre)

Through her research on air pollution, Rima Habre, Sc.D., of the University of Southern California (USC), wants to learn exactly what pollutants are in the air, their quantities, and whether exposures to such contaminants can be linked to health effects.

Habre leads exposure assessment work at the USC Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center for Environmental Health Disparities. There, researchers are disentangling the effects of air pollution, wildfires, the built environment, and social stressors on maternal and child health.

“Much of my work focuses on monitoring and modeling individual exposure among pregnant women and their children,” Habre explained. “It’s really important to capture neighborhood air pollution and even what’s in a person’s home — what they are immediately breathing — because it will often have a much more direct impact on their health than background air pollution.”

Habre is using both aggregate data and daily-life information to build air pollution profiles and tailor them to individuals.

“By combining lots of different tools — like GPS tracking, time-activity surveys, indoor and personal environment measurements, and more — we can clearly see that what people do every day changes their exposure profiles,” Habre said.

To learn more about Habre’s NIEHS research, read this Story of Success.