Prof. Hyunok Choi, College of Health
Fabian Chavez Hernandez
Globally, quantifying and clarifying the causalities underlying environmentally attributable childhood illnesses, including adverse birth outcomes, asthma, obesity, and intellectual impairments, remains an urgent public health challenge. To date, our group has demonstrated that early-life exposures to fossil fuel-emitted air pollution independently contribute to adverse birth outcomes, obesity, and doctor-diagnosed asthma. In particular, air pollution due to fossil-fuel burning remains an urgent challenge in Kazakhstan. However, the extent to which neighborhood environmental, demographic, and social attributes contribute to the inception and exacerbation of multiple diseases during childhood within Kazakh children remains unknown. Furthermore, air pollution and regional climate change exact an exceptionally high toll on children and the impoverished segment of the population, thereby highlighting the underlying injustice. One of the most intractable barriers to an improved understanding includes an overall absence of valid ground-level air quality data in Kazakhstan. Such an absence of human air pollution exposure data means that protective policies for the general population could not be developed. Over the next 10-year period, our overarching goal is to quantify the human health and economic benefits due to the conversion from fossil-fuel dependency to renewable energy sources, mediated by reducing the environmental pollution. During the next five-year period, we aim to determine the asthma risk resulting from early-life exposures to PM2.5, NO2, and ozone, respectively or in conjunction, after adjusting for social-demographic behaviors. As a first step, our short-term goal is to build Kazakhstan-focused, multiscale geospatial data infrastructure. Over the next five-year period, we will seek to deepen our understanding of the environmental origins of childhood developmental disease, including but not limited to asthma, obesity, and neurocognitive impairments.
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