Interests: Climate-related exposures including wildfires, ambient temperature, and power outages; exposures across the lifecourse; social and environmental determinants of health; environmental justice; the energy transition; policy change
Wildfires and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). Wildfires have grown in size, severity, and frequency in the US. They produce large quantities of fine particulate matter as well as stressful disaster exposures in communities. These environmental and social stressors may increase the risk of ADRD incidence, progression, or mortality. Here, we conduct a nationwide analysis using Medicare hospitalizations data and a California analysis using Kaiser Permanente electronic health record data to determine links between wildfire exposures and ADRD. Importantly, we also consider the modifying role of nursing home residence, socioeconomic status (SES), power outages, and evacuation.
Early-life social and environmental exposures and late-life cognitive function and dementia. The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) is 50%+ higher among Black compared to white Americans. Environmental and social drivers, such as air pollution and racial segregation likely explain the difference. This study seeks to link Health and Retirement Study participants to their 1940 place of residence (near the time of birth), assign measures of air quality and systemic racism, and assess associations with late-life cognitive decline and dementia.
Power outages and health. As the US power grid ages, climate change accelerates, and the energy transition drives electricity demand, the prevalence and severity of power outages will likely increase. In nationwide and New York studies, we evaluate weather and climate causes of outages, environmental justice concerns, and health effects.
Unconventional natural gas development and childhood respiratory health. Unconventional natural gas development (i.e., fracking) can produce a range of environmental exposures, such as air, noise, and water pollution as well as psychosocial stress among nearby populations. We consider environmental justice dimensions of this exposure, finding that oil and gas wastewater in Pennsylvania was disproportionately disposed in socioeconomically deprived communities. Ongoing work assesses the role of unconventional natural gas development and coal-fired power plant exposures for childhood respiratory health.
Racial disparities in preterm birth and fetal loss. Non-Hispanic Black mothers have 1.6x the risk of delivering preterm compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Along with Tim Bruckner’s group at University of California, Irvine, we evaluate which spatial indicators of structural racism may explain this disparity.
Multigenerational air pollution exposure and birth outcomes. Air pollution exposure follows a social gradient with lower SES and non-white individuals generally exposed to more pollution. In this work, we seek to understand whether multigenerational exposure to different levels of air pollution may partially explain birth outcome disparities. The study leverages 700,000+ births in California and uses causal inference methods to evaluate the change in racial/ethnic and socioeconomic birth outcome disparities under the scenario where disadvantaged groups receive an exposure distribution of more privileged groups.