Northeastern University

Page Content   Main Links   Local Links   Utility Links   Footer Links

Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University


Airborne pollutants and the health problems they create

Print this Page   Home > News > 2012 > Airborne pollutants and the health problems they create

November 29, 2012


Pol­i­cy­makers often develop new envi­ron­mental rules and reg­u­la­tions based on the rec­om­men­da­tions of researchers whose exper­tise lie in the envi­ron­mental health sciences.

Helen Suh, for example, a newly appointed asso­ciate pro­fessor of health sci­ences in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, is one of the researchers at the fore­front of helping sci­en­tists and gov­ern­ment offi­cials under­stand air-​​pollution expo­sure and its impact on health.

Many pol­lu­tants exist in the air at the same time, making it dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate the health impacts of one pol­lu­tant from another,” said Suh, an expert in envi­ron­mental expo­sure assess­ment and epi­demi­ology. “To gather mean­ingful infor­ma­tion for pol­i­cy­makers, we need new approaches to examine the indi­vidual and joint impacts of these pol­lu­tants simultaneously.”

To assist in this effort, Suh develops Geo­graphic Infor­ma­tion Systems-​​based models that can pre­dict the con­cen­tra­tion of air pol­lu­tion in par­tic­ular loca­tions and at par­tic­ular times. This research has been instru­mental in linking spe­cific pol­lu­tants to adverse health effects.

Suh’s work has extended beyond the walls of acad­emia. She per­forms advi­sory work in envi­ron­mental health for numerous local, national and inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions. Suh is cur­rently a member of the U.S. Envi­ron­mental Pro­tec­tion Agency charter Clean Air Sci­en­tific Advi­sory Com­mittee and the Insti­tute of Medicine’s Com­mittee to Review the Health Effects in Vietnam Vet­erans of Expo­sure to Her­bi­cides. She is also asso­ciate editor of the Inter­na­tional Journal of Expo­sure Sci­ence and Envi­ron­mental Epidemiology.

Deci­sions to reg­u­late envi­ron­mental pol­lu­tants require input from many sci­en­tific dis­ci­plines,” Suh said.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Suh noted that Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to fos­tering inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research attracted her to the uni­ver­sity. “Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research is crit­ical to envi­ron­mental health research and edu­ca­tion,” she said. “So often depart­ments and dis­ci­plines operate as silos. I like to build bridges between these silos, which for the envi­ron­mental health field, involves diverse dis­ci­plines ranging from engi­neering to archi­tec­ture to health sci­ences to biology. You need to assemble a whole com­mu­nity that can work together to solve these problems.”

Suh com­pleted her under­grad­uate edu­ca­tion at MIT and then received both a master’s and doc­torate degree from the Har­vard School of Public Health. She spent the last two decades teaching at Harvard.

Main Links

Local Links

Text Only Options

Top of page

Text Only Options

Open the original version of this page.

Usablenet Assistive is a UsableNet product. Usablenet Assistive Main Page.