Ed Avol Interviewed: Is it better to cycle or drive a car in polluted air?

SCEHSC professor and pollution exposure expert Ed Avol was recently interviewed on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio. Avol and other researchers in the Environmental Health Centers based at USC are often called upon to answer questions regarding health and exercise. In this interview with Avol, KPCC was able to capture some of the major questions that people ask when they are concerned about cycling near sources of air pollution.

Click through to the article where Avol details ways to reduce the impacts of air pollution when cycling such as:

  • stay off busy streets
  • consider the wind
  • watch the clock
  • avoid the heat
  • don’t overdo it

KPCC article/interview: Is it better to cycle or drive a car in polluted air? by Susan Carpenter

Earth Day 2016

The faculty and staff at the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, are glad this is a day to bring attention to our earth and the ways that we can take action to help sustain it in the present and especially the future.

Today, over 170 at the United Nations are signing a historic climate agreement. You can watch their live and recorded coverage below. Continue reading “Earth Day 2016”

Center Member Avol Featured in USC Trojan Family Magazine

Keck Medicine of USC’s Ed Avol wants to help Angelenos breathe easy

Katharine Gammon, Spring 2016

ED AVOL DIDN’T start out trying to change Los Angeles. After he earned his master’s degree from Caltech in 1974, the engineer used his chemistry and physics background to measure air pollution. Fairly quickly, though, he became interested in the health aspects of the air we breathe. As a Keck School of Medicine of USC professor, Avol has been instrumental in USC’s influential studies on the relationship between air quality and children’s lung health. Despite his knowledge about smog, Avol has also been an avid runner and running coach in LA for decades. Science writer Katharine Gammon recently caught up with him to talk about his personal experiences in environmental health research.

Click here to read the full story on the USC Trojan Family Magazine website.

Children’s Health Study receives top honors for paper in 2015 from NEJM and NIEHS

In March 2015, as part of the ongoing research of the Southern California Children’s Health Study, a paper documenting improvement in children’s lung function as a direct result of decline in pollutant levels (nitrogen dioxide and fine particles) across Southern California was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the funders of the research, recognized the paper as one of the top 25 papers of 2015.

The New England Journal of Medicine recognized the paper as one of the top 12 papers that was published by the journal in 2015.

The direct link to a summary of the article on the NEJM website can be found here.
More: press release and a summary of press coverage of the article.

W. James Gauderman, Ph.D., Robert Urman, M.S., Edward Avol, M.S., Kiros Berhane, Ph.D., Rob McConnell, M.D., Edward Rappaport, M.S., Roger Chang, Ph.D., Fred Lurmann, M.S., and Frank Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D. Association of Improved Air Quality with Lung Development in Children.
N Engl J Med 2015; 372:905-913March 5, 2015 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1414123

Near-Roadway Air Pollution and Coronary Heart Disease Study Published

Research encourages policymakers to consider effects of near-roadway air pollution when planning high-density housing near public transportation, say Keck School of Medicine of USC investigators

Heart disease from exposure to pollution near roads and freeways is often overlooked

LOS ANGELES — Policymakers and developers planning high-density housing near public transit with the goal of reducing automobile use and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming need a clearer understanding of the health risks from air pollution that may be created if that housing is also built near busy roads and freeways, according to new research by Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) scientists.

Click here for link to the study.

The study is one of the first to focus on the burden of heart disease that can result from residential exposures near major roadways in a large urban area. According to the researchers, the effects of the near-roadway component of air pollution is generally underappreciated and not included in estimates of air pollution-related heart disease. These near-roadway exposures are largely unregulated.

The study estimated the current impact of near-roadway pollution and of likely future exposure under proposed urban redevelopment plans for Southern California in response to landmark California legislation passed in 2008 to reduce greenhouse gases by 2035. Senate Bill 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, sets regional targets to decrease vehicle traffic, in part by promoting urban redevelopment with multifamily homes in corridors with good public transportation. The anticipated result is less reliance on private automobiles, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and corresponding reduced levels of air pollution hazardous to health.

“The health benefits of these reduced emissions are partially offset by increased exposure to high concentrations of near-roadway pollutants among a larger population living next to major traffic corridors,” said Rob McConnell, professor of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC and corresponding author.

“The response to SB 375 is a historic opportunity to optimize the health co-benefits of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An appreciation of the health risks of near-roadway pollution would strengthen the argument for proposals to zone buffer areas between busy roadways and new high-density housing and to develop a zero-emission or near-zero-emission vehicle fleet.”

“Near-roadway pollutants are rapidly diluted over short distances,” said Rakesh Ghosh, first author and research associate, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Residential exposure reduces markedly within a few hundred feet of even the busiest roadways.”

The investigators noted that the population is aging and that older persons are more vulnerable to the effects of pollution. Therefore, the number of heart attacks caused by air pollution is likely to increase over the next two decades even though pollution is decreasing.

Other researchers contributing to the study include Frederick Lurmann and Bryan Penfold (Sonoma Technology), Nino Kunzli and Laura Perez (University of Basel and Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland), Sylvia Brandt (University of Massachusetts), John Wilson (Spatial Sciences Institute, USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences), and Meredith Milet (California Department of Public Health).

The research, “Near roadway air pollution and coronary heart disease: Burden of disease and potential impact of a greenhouse gas reduction strategy in Southern California” was published July 7 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The research was funded by National Institutes of Health grants P01ES022845, P01ES011627, P30ES007048, R01ES016535, U.S. EPA grant RD83544101, and The Hastings Foundation.

Article cited:
Ghosh, R., Lurmann, F., Perez, L., Penfold, B, Brandt, S., Wilson, J., Milet, M., Kunzli, N & McConnell, R. (2015). Near roadway air pollution and coronary heart disease: Burden of disease and potential impact of a greenhouse gas reduction strategy in Southern California. Environmental Health Perspectives Published online July 7, 2015; doi: 10.1289/ehp.1408865

About Keck Medicine of USC

Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California’s medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; has a medical faculty practice, the USC Care Medical Group; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and owns USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities, some at affiliated hospitals, in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Tulare and Ventura counties.U.S. News & World Report ranked Keck Medical Center of USC among the Top 10 in ophthalmology and among the Top 25 hospitals in the United States for urology and cancer care.

For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond

Contact: Robert Perkins at (213) 740-9226 or perkinsr@usc.edu

Southern California Children’s Health Study Forum

The Southern California Children’s Health Study Forum: “Healthier kids and the future of cleaner air” was a chance for researchers to talk about the latest information about air pollution in the Los Angeles basin, and what this means for children’s health.  Community leaders discussed their work to reduce emissions from freeway pollution and the ports in the future.

Thank you to all the speakers and participants at the May 18, 2015 event in Long Beach, CA; nearly 100 residents and members of nonprofit organizations attended.

The event featured panelists Frank Gilliland, Rob McConnell, Ed Avol, and Jim Gauderman of USC, mark! Lopez, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Elisa Nicholas, Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma, and moderator Andrea Hricko, USC.  Panelists discussed recent research, including studies on overall levels of air pollution and improving children’s lung function, studies linking air pollution exposure to higher weight and obesity, and the health costs of air pollution to families.  Levels of ultrafine particles, the smallest particles that can get deep into the lungs, are still too high near roadways and downwind of LAX Airport.

Residents were able to talk with USC scientists about their environmental health concerns, and discuss how to use research results in the future.  Participants brought up many important issues, and talked about ways in which the community and researchers can partner together.

“Building partnerships and opportunities for youth to go on to these career paths is important.”
– East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted the Children’s Health Study.”
– Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma

“The work you’re doing here in LA is also helping people 1500 miles away.”
– Diesel Health Project, Kansas City

Panel of speakers at the forum.

Over 100 people attended.

Organized by the Trade, Health, and Environment Impact Project, and sponsored by the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, the Southern California Children’s Health Sciences Center, Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, and The Kresge Foundation. 

USC Researchers to do a Pilot Study on LAX Air Pollution and Asthma

We are announcing the launch of a pilot study looking at how exposure to ultrafine particles from plane landings at LAX affects lung function and inflammation in adults with asthma. Our official launch date is May 18th, for a duration of two months.

Those interested in participating, please contact Dr. Rima Habre to obtain information. Click on the images below to read more…