Air Quality Environments

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Exposure to air pollutants like PM 2.5 (very fine particulate matter) may cause acute and chronic health conditions in human beings. The interplay of exposure and vulnerability are of critical importance to better understand, however, as it’s not always clear how exposure to air pollution, vulnerability to any air pollution due to social and economic stress, and the relationships between may influence, magnify, and drive health outcomes. Accessing small area estimates of air quality is thus crucial to refine understanding of social determinants of health and promoting equitable and sustainable “Healthy Regions.” We thus take on projects with community partners and international air quality experts to make air quality research more accessible to the public health community, always with an applied focus.

Partnership for Healthy Cities. Gaining small-area estimates of air quality and high spatial and temporal resolution could support researchers, policymakers, and public decision-making at a hyper-local level.  As research partners to the Chicago Department of Public Health, our goal is to extract evidence-based air quality drivers and direct estimates of PM 2.5 over 5 years in the Chicagoland area; model air quality using various approaches; and make the data accessible for different scenarios. When modeling air quality, we employ a hybrid-sensor statistical approach using high quality ground-based EPA sensors, remotely sensed data like Aerosol Optical Depth and the NDVI, and multiple predictors.

Respiratory Health Association. Reducing the amount of emissions from diesel-powered public transportation vehicles, particularly in dense urban areas like Chicago, can improve local air quality and reduce health risks. We did an exploratory analysis of bus routes in the city to estimate associations of highly trafficked routes and socially vulnerable residents.


Chicago Tree Site Selection Tool (To Be Released in 2021, in progress)

Chicago AirQ Exploration Dashboard (To Be Released in 2021, in progress)

Open AirQuality Toolkit in R (To Be Released in 2021, in progress). Tutorials by Isaac Kamber, Lorenz Menendez, Haowen Shang, Yuming Liu, Jizhou Wang, and Marynia Kolak.

Co-authored with Respiratory Health Association, “Electrification of CTA Buses: Health Implications of Inaction.”  Aug 2020. 

Physical Environment Data, Community-Area. Chicago Health Atlas. June 2019. (Github for Phase 1.)

Mapping Array of Things Data with Spatial Statistics. Array of Things Workshop, 2018, Argonne National Laboratory. Tutorials by Anais Ladoy, Isaac Kamber, Marynia Kolak, Julia Koschinsky, and Luc Anselin, facilitated by Marynia Kolak and Isaac Kamber. 


The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a global network of cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies.

The project with the Respiratory Health Association was funded by the Joyce Foundation. 

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  • Raed Mansour @the Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Dan Kass @Vital Strategies
  • Respiratory Health Association
  • Alexei Lyapustin @NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Itai Kloog @Ben Gurion University and Mout Sinai Health System

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News & Updates

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