SCEHSC Seminar May 6: Field and Laboratory Evaluation of ‘Low-Cost’ Air Quality Sensors

The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents

“Field and Laboratory Evaluation of ‘Low-Cost’ Air Quality Sensors”

Andrea Polidori, PhD

Quality Assurance Manager
Science & Technology Advancement
South Coast Air Management Quality District
Diamond Bar, CA

Friday, May 6, 2016
11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Soto Street Building, Room 115
2001 North Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032

To sign up for the FREE seminar, please email

Dr. Andrea Polidori is the Quality Assurance Manager for Science & Technology Advancement at SCAQMD and is responsible for the development and implementation of quality assurance control methods, plans, procedures, and programs. He is also involved in the analysis of data collected from numerous field activities and air monitoring projects, and is currently leading the design, development and implementation of AQ-SPEC and of SCAQMD’s fenceline monitoring program.

Prior to joining the SCAQMD, he was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles where he taught courses and conducted extensive research on the relationships between indoor and outdoor air pollutants, and the health impacts caused by exposure to air toxics. He has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed journal publications and one book chapter.

Visitor parking at the Soto Street Building is limited. If you are planning to park at the Soto building during the seminar please contact Marissa Jacy for more information. If you are a USC employee, please plan to take the free USC shuttle to our seminars whenever possible. Information about the USC shuttle can be found at


USC News: USC, UCLA to develop children’s asthma prediction app

Technology will help young people maximize their health and reduce the burden of the incurable condition

by Zen Voung, USC Media Relations
Link to original article on USC News

USC and UCLA scientists are working on a smartphone app and cloud services platform that will predict the probability of a child’s future asthma attack and provide personalized risk management advice.

The smartphone is a personalized approach that evaluates potential real-time environmental triggers. (Graphic/Alex Bui)

Frank Gilliland, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said the integrative Biomedical Real-Time Health Evaluation (BREATHE) platform he and colleagues are developing is a potentially revolutionary approach to managing asthma, one of the most common chronic childhood diseases.

“We think this is the future for asthma care,” said Gilliland, co-principal investigator of the project. “We will use real-time, high-volume information about physiology, symptoms, medication use and environmental exposures. This ‘big data’ will help physicians manage patients better and prevent exacerbations. It is a personalized medicine approach that evaluates potential real-time environmental triggers, genetics and a child’s asthma attack

Data crunch
USC and UCLA researchers will build a platform that will crunch data from children’s wearable devices, smartphones and individual electronic health records as well as real-time reports on weather conditions, air quality, pollen and allergy forecasts, and other “asthma triggers.” The algorithm will supply contextual information in a secure, cloud-based system.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering awarded a $5.25 million grant to co-principal investigators Gilliland and Jose-Luis Ambite, a research assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The agency also awarded UCLA a $6 million grant, of which $1.85 million is expected to be subcontracted to USC. The money in both grants will be spread across four years of research and development.

About 6.8 million children in the United States have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The currently incurable respiratory condition cost the United States about $56 billion in medical costs, lost school and work days in 2007.

“Asthma weighs heavily on the nation in terms of public health, medical costs and quality of life,” said Alex Bui, also a principal investigator in this study and professor of radiological sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “One of the biggest challenges will be making the smart device user-friendly for young children. Kids like intuitive interfaces with bright colors, simple language, big text and quirky noises. We’re having fun exploring how to build those facets into our design.”

Take a breath
Researchers will test the platform on 8- to 12-year-old children with asthma. The algorithm scientists are developing will analyze data from the landmark USC Children’s Health Study, a litany of contextual data from environmental sensors and a history of previous asthma attacks. When exacerbating conditions arise again, the asthma app may remind a child or caregiver to bring an inhaler or medicine to ward off a future asthma attack.

“We will use technology to help people maximize their health and reduce the burden of childhood asthma,” said Gilliland, director of USC’s Division of Environmental Health. “Privacy is critical. The data has to be encrypted and secure so people could be assured their data will be confidential.”

The smartphone is a personalized approach that evaluates potential real-time environmental triggers. (Graphic/Alex Bui)

USC Funded by NIH/Fogarty: GEOHealth Hub for Research and Training in eastern Africa

October 8, 2015: NIH Fogarty International Center announced they are investing $21 million in partnerships between research institutions in the US and Canada  to establish Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) Hubs in developing countries.

Through the leadership of Dr. Kiros Berhane, Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine and Dr. Jon Samet, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Keck School of Medicine, USC will be partnering with Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) for the eastern Africa portion of the work which will include air pollution monitoring work in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The air pollution monitoring network and surrounding work that is a part of this hub is modeled after the longitudinal Southern California Children’s Health study of which Dr. Berhane has been an investigator. The hub will have two main components dealing with training and research activities to be led by USC and Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) respectively. The research projects will be conducted primarily by Eastern African researchers.

Media coverage:
USC Press Release here.
NIH/Fogarty PRESS RELEASE and related resources and information about the GEOHealth Hub project can be found here.

For background on this project at USC,see this blog post detailing part of the air pollution monitoring network planning process that took place back in April 2014 when Worku Tefera, researcher from Ethiopia visited USC.

GEOHealth Hub team in Ethiopia during a planning meeting in 2013.

Worku Tefera (right), Steve Howland, and Suresh Ratnam pictured on the roof of the Soto Street building at USC HSC disassembling an air pollution monitor.

EJSI Summer Institute Culminating Projects and Presentation

On Wednesday July 23 the Environmental Justice Summer Institute drew to a close. The hard work of the student and intern participants was showcased through a presentation at Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ 2nd District main office during the Environmental Committee meeting of the Empowerment Congress.

The youth gave a presentation (below) and showcased the videos that they made (below) that summarized their EJSI experiences. Committee members listened intently and engaged in a question/answer session with the youth participants, giving them a chance to speak about what they learned and how they think they might utilize the knowledge and experiences gained during the program. The youth were challenged to articulate not only what they learned, but the lessons they intend on taking away and applying to their lives in the near future.Some of the lessons learned were:

  • With knowledge they have a chance to make a difference.
  • The communities that they live in have higher than average levels of air and noise pollution.
  • All it takes is the effort of one person to make a difference to the environment such as walking to the store instead of having one’s parents drive them down the street.
  • Some who were already interested in environmental justice felt more equipped with knowledge and confidence to take leadership roles among their peers. One participant intends to start an Environmental Justice club at her school.

Prior to the last day of the program, the participants were visited by Dr. Joseph Lyou, President and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air and board member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.  Dr. Lyou spoke about the role of community organizations and future opportunities for the students.

The Environmental Justice Summer Institute program is a partnership of USC Environmental Health,
Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA), From Lot to Spot (FLTS), and Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI). Learn more about the institute in these blog posts and Resource Page:
Environmental Justice Summer Institute: Youth Workshops
Youth Pollution Monitoring Activities across the Southland
Teaching Environmental Justice through Building Model Cities

USC Environmental Health gratefully thanks the NIEHS, U.S. EPA, The Kresge Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation for their combined support which has allowed the Centers’ participation in these efforts to educate youth about air pollution.

by Wendy Gutschow

Environmental Justice Summer Institute: Youth Workshops

Four Southern California groups are excited to announce a new partnership to jointly sponsor an inaugural Environmental Justice Summer Institute (EJSI):

  • USC Environmental Health
  • Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA)
  • From Lot to Spot (FLTS)
  • Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI)

This five week, 14-session summer program will begin on June 26, 2014. ESJI was created to engage a diverse group of 15 local high school youth from Lennox, Hawthorne and Inglewood, around environmental health and environmental justice issues.

This EJSI curriculum is focused on educating, engaging, and empowering the youth to be agents of change in their own neighborhoods.

Educate: Youth will learn about environmental justice and its disproportionate impact on people of color communities through workshops, presentations, and community tours.

Engage: Youth will participate in an interactive workshop with urban planner James Rojas and conduct on-the-ground monitoring and mapping.  With partner USC the youth will develop hands-on experience to not only map out and identify highly polluted locations in their own neighborhoods, but to also have an opportunity to use air and noise monitoring equipment to track pollution levels.

Empower: Throughout the program, the youth will work with Digital Rain Factory on digital storytelling to educate and engage their communities around the environmental concerns they have. The digital stories they create will also be used to advocate to their local elected officials, for changes they identify are needed through their summer program.

Curriculum to be covered:

  • Researching environmental justice in our community
  • Becoming environmental justice youth leaders
  • Learning how to make videos for a cause
  • Monitoring air and noise levels
  • Informing public policy 101: The low down on our local policies
  • Being a dynamic speaker
  • Engaging the Community

Stay tuned for more exciting details of this pilot program! Search #EJSIFellows on Twitter to keep up on the latest developments, photos and more.

Learn more about the institute in these blog posts and Resource Page:
Environmental Justice Summer Institute: Youth Workshops
Youth Pollution Monitoring Activities across the Southland
Teaching Environmental Justice through Building Model Cities

The EJSI is partially supported by USC’s Children’s Environmental Health Center, which is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences  and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Additional support for staff participation is provided by grants from the Kresge Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation.

Environmental Justice Summer Institute partner organizations on Twitter:

Establishing a GEOHealth Hub for East Africa

L-R: Ratnam, Howland and Tefera on the roof of USC’s Soto Street Building as they disassemble an air pollution monitor.

Worku Tefera is a researcher visiting USC Environmental Health this week to learn about the types of air pollution monitoring conducted as part of the Children’s Health Study. The training will kick-start a similar air pollution monitoring network that will be set up in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. “Pollution is boundary-less,” said Tefera, who is also studying for a PhD at USC under the direction of Dr. Frank Gilliland.

Training is being provided by USC staff Suresh Ratnam and Steve Howland and faculty members Kiros Berhane, Frank Gilliland and Scott Fruin. “It’s been a busy week” training Worku and documenting all the equipment procedures, says Ratnam.

Tefera will be bringing exposure monitoring equipment back to Ethiopia with him to begin a study, as part of the Global Environmental Health initiative of the SCEHSC and part of the global health activities of the Institute for Global Health.

Tefera is co-investigator of a planning grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center designed to establish a “GEOHealth Hub for East Africa.” GEOHealth stands for “Global Environmental and Occupational Health,” with the Hub covering Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. He is also a co-investigator on a proposal with Environmental Health faculty on “Effects of Clean Cookstoves on Child Survival in Ethiopia.”

by Kiros Berhane and Carla Truax