Our most-read stories of 2022 

| Priya Paul
Photo of downtown Seattle, I-5 and surrounding neighborhoods on a smoky day.

Photo: Alamy.

Global recognition, new faculty and cutting-edge research: counting down our top 10 blog posts of 2022

2022 was a year of growth, change and global recognition for the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS), which secured top rankings in US News & World Report’s Best Global Universities 2022-2023 survey.  

The department welcomed new faculty and led critical environmental and occupational health research that will help protect communities from wildfire smoke, underscore the health risks to children exposed to air pollution and prevent farmworkers from being exposed to pesticides on the job. Let’s explore some of the highlights of 2022.

Exterior shot of an office building at night
The new UW Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, home of the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences. Photo: UW Photography.

10. DEOHS top-ranked for environmental and occupational health

DEOHS was ranked No. 7 in the world and No. 3 in the US for environmental and occupational health sciences in US News & World Report’s 2022-2023 Best Global Universities rankings. The rankings are based on parameters such as global and regional research, reputation and academic research performance, among others. 



Heavy traffic on highway I-5 in Seattle with houses on a ridge above.
“Even in cities like Seattle or San Francisco, which have a lot of traffic but where the pollution levels are still relatively low, we found that children with higher prenatal NO2 exposure had more behavioral problems,” researchers said. Photo: SounderBruce via Flickr.

9. Air pollution and child behavior

This DEOHS-led study found that children exposed to higher levels of air pollution were more likely to have behavioral problems. The ongoing research by the ECHO PATHWAYS consortium is funded by the US National Institutes of Health and aims to analyze the lifelong impacts of environmental and social factors on child development.



A screenshot of Washington’s Environmental Health Disparities Map when filtered for environmental health disparities.
A screenshot of Washington’s Environmental Health Disparities Map when filtered for environmental health disparities.

8. New data pinpoints pollution's health risks

DEOHS helped the Washington State Department of Health launch its new version of the popular Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map in July 2022. The map was first launched in 2019 by DEOHS and partners, and helps policymakers, agencies and businesses work with communities to reduce environmental degradation and economic and health disparities. The latest version assesses the cumulative impacts of environmental pollution with updated data and methodology for ranking vulnerable areas.



A woman in a striped T-shirt and wearing surgical gloves stands near a desk in a laboratory.
DEOHS Research Scientist Alaina Olson is one of dozens of DEOHS workers deemed essential by the UW who worked mostly in person during the pandemic to maintain research and services. Photo: Courtesy of Olson.

7. Celebrating DEOHS essential workers

A shout out to all our DEOHS heroes, including research scientists, field staff and building managers whose unfailing dedication kept research and services going for the department during the pandemic. 



A man in a blue striped shirt poses against a white wall.
“I love what I do because I am able to help workers like my father come home safe to their families,” Aiwekhoe says. Photo: Courtesy of Aiwekhoe.

6. Guardian of workers

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship winner Amalawa Aiwekhoe  is DEOHS’s 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Student. He is a first-generation American of immigrant parents from Nigeria who takes pride and accountability in ensuring the safe return of employees back to their families from their workplaces. He now works as an occupational health and safety specialist at Boeing.



Aerial view of a large building, the UW Hans Rosling Center for Population Health
An aerial view of the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health at the University of Washington, home of the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences. Photo: UW.

5. Eight new faculty members join DEOHS

DEOHS welcomed new faculty members in 2022, with more joining in 2023. They bring broad expertise in environmental exposures, infectious diseases, machine learning, environmental justice, disaster preparedness and more.  



A plume of wildfire smoke behind the center of a small town showing brick buildings and cars.
Photo: US Forest Service.

4. Six ways communities can prepare for wildfire season

With wildfires becoming a growing threat in Washington state, DEOHS collaborated with other UW departments and key stakeholders in the state’s most wildfire-prone regions to address risks, challenges and mitigation strategies. The findings may help shape future plans for wildfire disaster management.



Yoni Rodriguez in suit
DEOHS MS student Yoni Rodriguez grew up working with his family in orchards in the Yakima Valley. Now he's developing tools to ensure health and safety for farmworkers. Photo: Courtesy of Rodriguez.

3. Preventing pesticide exposure for farmworkers

Latino Center for Health fellow and UW 2022 Husky 100 winner Yoni Rodriguez shares his pathbreaking research and tools he is developing to prevent pesticide exposure and pesticide-related illnesses among farmworkers in the US.  



Screen shot from video of Marissa Baker putting on an N95 mask

2. How well does your N95 mask fit?

Check out expert tips on getting a good fit from your N95 or KN95 mask, and when you should replace it, in this video from DEOHS Assistant Professor Marissa Baker. 



A woman holds a baby.
Air pollution exposures early in life can influence health for a lifetime. Photo: Hollie Santos on unsplash.

1. At every age, cleaner air means better health

Our special feature explores how tiny pollution particles can have major impacts on our health, including links with preterm birth, brain development, poor school performance, cancer, diabetes and even dementia. DEOHS research shows how solutions such as portable high-efficiency particulate air cleaners can help minimize these risks, especially in the most vulnerable: children, essential workers, low-income communities and the elderly.


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