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School and Program Updates

GW: Researchers Spearhead Initiative to Integrate Public Health, Air Quality into Urban Climate Efforts

Researchers at the George Washington University are launching a first-of-its-kind project to develop tools that will help cities worldwide decide what strategies are best to improve air quality and public health. The three-year effort is supported by a total of $1.2 million in grants from the Wellcome Trust and Clean Air Fund.

Led by Dr. Susan Anenberg, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, the researchers will develop and test an air quality model that estimates health impacts from fine particular matter. This model will then be integrated into a toolkit called Pathways, developed by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which cities are already using to plan climate action strategies. With local partners, Dr. Anenberg and her team will test the tool with regard to air quality and health benefits associated with climate actions taken in these pilot cities.

The researchers will also assess how they can quantify additional health benefits using the tool, such as changes in ozone, nitrogen dioxide levels, physical activity, noise levels, or improved green space in the cities. At the end of the three years, the research team hopes to better understand the health benefits of greenhouse gas mitigation policies, which may spur greater climate action from policymakers in cities worldwide.

“Air pollution is among the top 10 risk factors that affect public health in nearly all countries worldwide, and may be even more harmful to public health in cities,” Dr. Anenberg said. “Our project advances the science and integration with policy decision-making that is needed to realize public health benefits from both climate mitigation and air quality improvements.”

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