Air pollution constitutes the single largest environmental health risk factor contributing to the global burden of excess disease and mortality (Global Burden of Disease 2010).
In the US, environmental protection measures since the 1970s have led to substantial reductions in ambient pollutant levels, through emission control regulations and mitigation technologies. This progress has been fueled by policy-relevant research assessing exposures to pollution and associations with adverse health outcomes. Despite this, approximately 75 million people reside in counties across the US with pollution levels above the standards (USEPA, 2013). Moreover, pollution levels, in many parts of the world, continue to soar beyond those considered safe.
Domestically and globally, there remain concerns about emissions from industry, vehicles, environmental tobacco smoke, and the burning of solid fuels such as coal, wood, and dung for cooking and home heating, particularly in developing countries. Air pollution and climate change are inherently interlinked within a complex system, with air pollution both driving and limiting global warming. Anticipated increases in natural threats like wildfires and increased ozone pollution with a warming climate raise concern for future public health.
Faculty and students at Rollins are leading projects to address concerns regarding air pollution and human health. Bridging much of this work is the Southeastern Center for Air Pollution and Epidemiology (SCAPE; www.scape.gatech.edu ), a research collaboration between Emory University—with faculty and students from Environmental Health, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics—and the Georgia Institute of Technology.