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January 2020 Archives

PH290: Global air quality & health: A survey of research methods and recent findings

Globally, between 5.5 and 7 million deaths per year are attributed to air pollution, making it one of the most prominent contributors to the global burden of disease. This survey course will provide an overview of global ambient and household air pollution, a brief background on atmospheric processes relevant to air pollution; the implications of air pollution on public health, with a focus on recent clinical, toxicological, and epidemiological evidence, and emergent issues in air pollution epidemiology, measurement, and policies. Health impacts and policy implications of exposures to household and ambient pollution as well as occupational exposures and exposures to environmental tobacco smoke will be examined. Syllabus

Select Lectures
Lecture 1 - Introductions + Overview | Lecture 2 - Pollutants | Lecture 4 - Air Pollution Measurement 2 | Lecture 5 - Air Pollution Measurement 1

The Colonial Roots of India's Air Pollution Crisis

A fascinating interrogation of the air pollution crisis in India in EPW by Asher Ghertner. The full article is behind a paywall, unfortunately; Rutgers has a good summary:

Drawing on the "fact" of small Indian lungs, key Indian government ministries have argued something quite different, suggesting that Indian lungs are not uniquely vulnerable to air pollution but rather uniquely "adapted" to tropical air/dust. Small lungs, in other words, are somehow less affected by pollution - they claim. These ministries have used the anatomical difference in Indian lung size to challenge the applicability of World Health Organization and Global Burden of Disease (GBD) integrated exposure-response (IER) functions for air pollution--which define the expected increase in death and illness caused by levels of pollution exposure within a population. Ghertner uses these ministries' arguments and testimonies from judicial records to show how the same argument used in the colonial era to submit Indian workers to unshielded "miasmas" now subjects all citizens to a process of slow death by breath. This also normalizes what he calls a "sequestration" model of atmospheric conduct that maintains that the solution to pollution is enclosure - escape into private cars and townships or self-defense through air pollution masks and personal purification systems - not pollution abatement.