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New Statistical Models to Link Climate Change, Effect of Pollution on Health

A new collaboration led by a North Carolina State University statistician aims to predict how a changing climate may impact the effect of airborne pollutants on human health.

Dr. Montserrat Fuentes, professor and head of  NC State’s Department of Statistics, will lead the three-year project, which includes research partners from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Fuentes $1.2 million in project funding.

“What we are interested in discovering is how weather variables affect air pollution, specifically the small particulate matter in our air that has the largest impact on human health,” Fuentes says. “And further, how that health impact varies in differently populated environments, such as cities versus rural areas.”

The collaborators will be tasked with creating statistical models that factor in different mixtures of pollutants, weather patterns, and health outcomes within various neighborhoods, and developing frameworks that will characterize the impact of climate change on these factors and on human health.

“The relationship between weather patterns and pollution is important, particularly when it comes to protecting the health of our most vulnerable citizens,” Fuentes adds. “We hope that the predictive capabilities of these models will help us do just that.”