My courses are designed to provide an understanding of the scientific principles of air pollution and the human health consequences associated with a range of environmental hazards. As our students have diverse backgrounds and interests, they will use the information and skills learned in these courses in a variety of settings, including policy formation, research, and public outreach. The classes provide a basis for interpreting and synthesizing scientific literature and for understanding key scientific gaps and uncertainties. The courses are designed for the Masters level, but are appropriate for doctoral students and higher-level undergraduates.
Human health is one of the primary drivers of environmental policy and the public’s interest in the environment. Further, environmental health is interconnected with other environmental issues, such as ecosystem health. This course addresses multiple pathways through which environmental systems impact human health. The class covers key environmental health agents, including the source, transport and transformation of pollutants, exposure assessment, and analysis methods. Through this course students explore strengths and limitations of various study designs, and how results can be synthesized across studies. Topics include environmental health case studies, outdoor air pollution, infectious diseases, occupational health, environmental justice, cancer and the environment, and health consequences of climate change. Students complete a semester-long analysis of an environmental health disaster of their choice. Assigned readings include a textbook chapters and over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, which students critique through written and oral assignments. A key goal of this exercise is to help students learn how to read scientific articles, even if they do not have the full underlying scientific basis to conduct such research. Supplemental readings are provided for students who wish to learn more about a particular topic.
Air pollution substantially impacts health, ecological systems, and materials, and is linked with climate change and energy. In this course students learn scientific principles of air pollution and key pollutants, including their characteristics, emission sources, and effects. The atmospheric structure is taught with reviews of major gases, particulates, and atmospheric layers. Pollution movement is explored through local and regional wind systems, global circulation, effects of temperature and pressure, stability classes, inversion layers, and plume movement. Students examine the physical transformation of pollutants, including the formation of secondary particles, and the chemical transformation of pollutants with basic chemistry of tropospheric ozone formation. Particulate matter and ozone are emphasized given their unique formation, well-demonstrated health and other consequences, and significant regulatory challenge in the U.S. and elsewhere. Other topics include air quality modeling and fossil fuel combustion. Readings include general background (e.g., textbook chapters), scientific journal articles, and texts relating topics to real-world conditions (e.g., policy, case studies). Assignments include quantitative problem sets and exams, and a paper on a relevant topic.
Air pollution in Beijing.