Pilot Project: Broad Spectrum Particulate Exposure Assessment in Rural Appalachian Environments and Associated Population Level Respiratory Health Problems

  • Flunker, John (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Although nanopmiicle ($100 nm) exposure and associated adverse health effects have been well documented in urban areas 1, 2, 3, little to no research to date has examined the size distribution and concentrntion of particles ranging from 3nm to 10,000 nm, spanning from nano to course paiticles, in rural regions. Due to recent advances in technology, the assessment of concentrations of these particles as well as groupings of particles within the 3-10,000 nm range, can be accomplished via portable devices. This vastly increases t!1e variety oflocations where sampling is feasible and allows for the measurement of specific particle size exposures and associations with potential size specific respiratory health effects. Rural Appalachia is an impoverished region with resource extraction often occurring in close proximity to residential areas. Fmthermore, residential areas are frequently located in close proximity to major vehicle travel and coal haul routes. Residents of rural Appalachia, especially Eastern Kentucky, experience a heightened prevalence ofrespirntory disease relative to the remainder of the United States .i, yet the exact contributing factors are unknown. One plausible hypothesis is that particulate exposure resulting from resource extraction and associated activities may promote respirato1y disease among residents ofrural Appalachia 5• The Mountain Air Project (MAP), has begun an assessment ofpmticulate exposure and associated respiratory health among residents of Harlan and Letcher Co11tlties in SouthEastem Kentucky, yet this study does not measure pmiiculate levels and associated health effects in rural mid urban areas outside of Harlan and Letcher counties, KY. To the author's knowledge, no studies to date have examined the size distribution and concentration of particles ranging from 3nm to 10,000 nm and associated population level health outcornes, such as obstrnctive hll1g disease prevalence, respirat01y related emergency room visits, and mortality among residents ofrurnl and urban Appalachia. Thus, I propose a pilot study, following an exposure assessment and ecological model approach, aimed at assessing particulate matter size distribution and concentrati011 versus associated population level respiratory health effects in tlll'ee rnral and three urban Appalachian regions with varying levels of resource extraction and respiratory exposures. Results from this pilot study, which includes a more detailed level of pmiiculate size exposure ranges than previous studies, may help to elucidate factors influencing respiratory exposures and healtl1 outcomes among residents of Appalachia living near to resource extraction. These data may also provide comparison groups to MAP and thus improve the applicability of MAP findings to residents in regions of Appalachia outside of Eastern Kentucky, yet with similar respirato1y exposures.
Effective start/end date10/1/166/30/17


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