Air Pollution

We are conducting several research studies examining air pollution exposures and associated human health impacts. These studies are conducted throughout the United States and globally.

PURE AIR: A global assessment of air pollution and cardiovascular disease

We are examining the impact of long-term exposure to air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory disease within the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study. This cohort (Phase I) recruited 155,000 individuals residing in 628 communities in 17 countries and 5 continents, with median current follow-up of 9.1 years.  More information on the PURE-AIR research project can be found here: PURE-AIR

Mortality-Air Pollution associations in Low Exposure environments: The MAPLE Study

Outdoor air pollution concentrations have decreased in developed countries over the past number of years but important associations with adverse health effects are still observed. Led by Dr. Michael Brauer (UBC), the MAPLE study provides a detailed assessment of air pollution health effects at low ambient concentrations including a thorough characterization of concentration-response relationships using newly developed exposure surfaces applied to population-based cohorts in Canada.

Air Pollution and Fertility

We are collaborating with Boston University to examine the influence of air pollution on fertility within the Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO). This study will determine how air pollution exposure impacts time to fertility and early spontaneous abortions.

Portland Air Toxics Study

Portland’s ongoing hazardous air pollutant problem spans decades, but recent community concerns sparked new investigations into specific point sources. In response to these concerns, we created a birth cohort of 314,988 infants in the Portland Metropolitan Region to assess effects of local and regional hazard air pollutant exposures on infant health between 2000 and 2015. The results of this study will inform the potential impacts of hazardous air pollutants on birth outcomes, address community concerns, and highlight necessary future research.

Oil and Gas Drilling & Pediatric Asthma Hospitalizations in Texas

About 15% of the Texas population lives within one mile of oil and gas drilling, yet the health effects of this exposure are largely unknown. We are developing a state database from 32 million inpatient hospitalizations with their residential areas linked to ongoing drilling activity metrics for hospitalizations between 2000 and 2010. This project aims to assess potential sources of drilling-related air pollution such as drilling type, production volume, site-specific truck traffic, and gas flaring activities with respect to pediatric asthma hospitalizations.

Impact of Energy Policy on Adverse Birth Outcomes, Birth Defects and Childhood Cancers in Texas

Using a Texas cohort of 5.2 million births linked to birth defect and childhood cancer registries born between 1996 and 2010, we are examining perinatal health consequences of different facets of the energy sector through econometric-based causal inference methods. Specific exposures of interest include shale gas development, power plant emissions, and traffic-related air pollution. Our goal is to introduce a health-based perspective into energy policy development and evaluation.

Representative Publications

Hystad, P., Demers, P., Johnson, K., Brauer, M. (2013). Long-Term Residential Exposure to Air Pollution and Lung Cancer Risk. Epidemiology. 24(5): 762-772. PMID: 23676262


Hystad P, Villeneuve PJ, Goldberg MS, Crouse DL, Johnson K, and the Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group. (2014). Exposure to traffic-related air pollution and the risk of developing breast cancer among women in eight Canadian provinces: a case-control study. Environment International. 74: 240-8. PMID: 25454241


Brauer, M., Reynolds, C., Hystad, P. (2013) Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Health in Canada Canadian Medical Association Journal. 185(18): 1557-1558. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.121568


Hystad, P., Demers, P., Johnson, K., Brauer, M. (2013). Long-Term Residential Exposure to Air Pollution and Lung Cancer Risk. Epidemiology. 24(5): 762-772. PMID: 23676262