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air quality

Creative Minds: Harnessing Technologies to Study Air Pollution’s Health Risks

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Perry Hystad

Perry Hystad
Credit: Hannah O’Leary, Oregon State University

After college, Perry Hystad took a trip to India and, while touring several large cities, noticed the vast clouds of exhaust from vehicles, smoke from factories, and soot from biomass-burning cook stoves. As he watched the rapid urban expansion all around him, Hystad remembers thinking: What effect does breathing such pollution day in and day out have upon these people’s health?

This question stuck with Hystad, and he soon developed a profound interest in environmental health. In 2013, Hystad completed his Ph.D. in his native Canada, studying the environmental risk factors for lung cancer [1, 2, 3]. Now, with the support of an NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, Hystad has launched his own lab at Oregon State University, Corvallis, to investigate further the health impacts of air pollution, which one recent analysis indicates may contribute to as many as several million deaths worldwide each year [4].

Smart Clothes—A Wearable Air Quality Sensor

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Man wearing the device adjacent to the logo of the My Air My Health Challenge

Caption: The prize winning pollution sensor
Credit: Conscious Clothing

America is waking up to the importance of a healthy lifestyle.  But while what you eat is important, what you breathe in matters, too. As you’re biking, running, or walking in the city—or anywhere for that matter—you’re inhaling car exhaust and other air pollution. Have you ever wondered how many lung-irritating particles you’re inhaling? And what effect air quality has on your health?

To address these questions, NIH, with the Department of Health and Human Services (our parent agency) and the Environmental Protection Agency, issued a challenge: the “My Air, My Health” challenge.