Linking NASA Data with Environmental Exposures and Health Outcomes in Theater of War

Linking NASA Data with Environmental Exposures and Health Outcomes in Theater of War


Source of Support: DoD TATRC

Award Amount: $196,549

Period Covered: 08/01/2011 to 07/30/2012

Grant: 10353004


Numerous studies have associated acute and chronic exposures to high levels of particulate matter (PM10/2.5) with health outcomes such as increased hospital admissions, increased respiratory/circulatory symptoms, and decreased lung functions. These exposures, which come from a variety of sources such as blowing sand and dust, smoke, vapors, and aerosols, are common in many areas throughout the globe where U.S. military personnel are deployed in support of our national defense.


Addressing such health concerns requires an accurate assessment of the small-aerosol-particle concentration near the ground—for example, the issue of air pollution and its effects on health. Various networks of ground-based sensors provide routine measurements of PM2.5, but their spatial coverage is rather sparse, especially in Third World countries. On the other hand, multiple space-borne sensors  measure the total aerosol optical depth (AOD), often with nearly global daily coverage. However, while we have good global coverage for AOD, it is often not the best proxy for the near-surface aerosol concentration. This can be for a variety of reasons, for example, aerosols can be transported at high altitudes without being present near the land surface, while still contributing to a high total AOD. While there is a growing interest in using satellite data, there is the issue that the currently available satellite data products do not provide accurate data on the near-surface PM2.5 abundance that we need for health studies (Hoff and Christopher 2009).