Our most-read stories of 2021

| Deirdre Lockwood
Three-part image including photos of a woman holding an air pollution monitor outside, two people in masks and face shields in a lab holding water samples, and firefighters fighting a wildfire.

Collaboration, community health and clean air: counting down our top 10 blog posts of 2021

In 2021, the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) welcomed new faculty, forged collaborations in climate and health, and continued our innovative, community-oriented environmental health research on areas including air pollution, COVID-19 and the far-reaching health impacts of wildfire smoke across Washington state. Explore our top stories below. We look forward to connecting in 2022!

Karen Levy and three students crouch down outside with Levy holding a water sample in a plastic bag.

10. Carving her own path

New UW Associate Professor Karen Levy works across disciplines—and the globe—to explore the intersection between infectious diseases and the environment.


Inside a classroom, Elena Austin turns the dial of an air quality monitor.

9. Monitoring air quality in schools

Does ultrafine air pollution infiltrate schools near Sea-Tac Airport? DEOHS researchers led by Assistant Professor Elena Austin partner with cities in South King County to find out.


A large ocean wave hits a seawall with apartment buildings behind it.

8. Climate change and human health

A new collaboration between UW Center for Health and the Global Environment and EarthLab accelerates climate research, action and resilience.


Hand holding a lit cigarette.

7. Cadmium exposure and COVID-19

DEOHS researchers find high levels of cadmium from smoking and certain foods are linked to more severe flu, pneumonia—and potentially, COVID-19.


In a park, a woman with a face mask and cell phone watches a person running along a path with a leashed dog.

6. King County gets high marks for masking

More than 85% of observed King County residents masked up in public, UW researchers show in partnership with King County and Washington State Department of Health.

Two people in surgical masks and face shields stand in a lab holding up samples of wastewater in plastic bottles.

5. Flushing out COVID-19

Using milk to extract the novel coronavirus from wastewater could help pinpoint new outbreaks through work in DEOHS Professor Scott Meschke’s lab.

Smoky air with the skyline of Seattle and trees in the background.

4. HEPA air cleaners could prevent deaths from wildfire smoke

A wildfire smoke event in 2020 may have led to nearly 100 deaths in Washington, but there are steps we can take now to avert future deaths, new research from DEOHS Associate Professor Edmund Seto’s lab shows.

Map with title Social Vulnerability by Zip Code showing Seattle zip codes shaded with deep purples indicating higher vulnerability (mainly in South Seattle) and lighter purples indicating lower vulnerability (mainly in North Seattle).


3. Mapping vaccine access

A new mapping tool developed by DEOHS researchers including Esther Min helped the City of Seattle prioritize equitable access to COVID-19 vaccination.


Man wearing a face mask and medical gloves stands in a lab holding a packaged swab in front of his face.

2. Can a single test detect both TB and COVID-19?

It’s one of several innovative ideas to help end TB from the lab of DEOHS Professor Jerry Cangelosi.


Wildfire smoke rises in plumes above a mountainous landscape in an aerial photo.

1. Special feature: “The risk is real”

Breathing wildfire smoke isn’t just unhealthy—it can be deadly. DEOHS works with partners across the Northwest to get the word out to those most at risk.




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