Research Group "Environmental Risks"

Covid-19 related projects:

“Influence of air quality on the expected burden on the health care system in the event of pandemics” (2021-2024)

The project aims to model the inter-relationship between environmental stressors and virus-borne infections as well as the relative lockdown effects via contact rates and versus alterations in air quality. Moreover, we will analyze the association between changes in air quality and other (non-COVID-19 associated) respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. This project will help assess which air pollutants need to be reduced to not further aggravate the spread of a pandemic or epidemic.

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CovGenAir: “The role of chronic diseases, environmental and genetic influences on the infection with SARS-CoV-2: boosters, effect modifiers or mediators?” (2021-2024)

The aim of COVGENAIR is to assess the role of chronic diseases, environmental and genetic variation and their interplay on the infection with SARS-CoV-2 in three comprehensively phenotyped longitudinal cohort studies from Germany covering different regions and age groups. Through antibody measurements against the SARS-Cov-2 virus, the assessment of weekly symptoms as well as re-examinations in all three cohorts, we will contribute to the elucidation of the environmental and molecular pathways, which could increase the risk of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, identify susceptible subjects and determine the long-term post-COVID-19 health outcomes on the respiratory, cardiometabolic and neurological system.

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AIR-LOCK: “Effect of air pollution reductions on mortality during the COVID-19 lockdown: A natural experiment study” (2021-2023)

This multi-country study will evaluate whether changes in mortality are associated with changes in ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels before, during, and after COVID-19 lockdowns and disentangle the short-term effects of NO2 versus PM2.5 on mortality. The analysis will be conducted in four countries: China, Germany, Italy, and the United States, see also https://ysph.yale.edu/climate/research/chen-lab/air-lock/.

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"Impact of environmental factors on viruses/virus infections - a systematic review" (2020-2021)

This project will review the current literature on the associations between ambient air pollution and meteorological factors and their impact on the appearance of virus infections.

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Health effects of Air Pollution:

MCC Collaborative Research Network - A multi-country multi-city collaboration on a program of research on associations between environmental stressors, climate, and health

The MCC research team aims to produce epidemiological evidence on associations between environmental stressors, weather, climate, and health. The network facilitates the availability of a large dataset from different countries or populations where each researcher can propose to investigate specific research questions, thereby, creating a formalized yet flexible method of collaboration.

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“Influence of air quality on the expected burden on the health care system in the event of pandemics” (2021-2024)

The project aims to model the inter-relationship between environmental stressors and virus-borne infections as well as the relative lockdown effects via contact rates and versus alterations in air quality. Moreover, we will analyze the association between changes in air quality and other (non-COVID-19 associated) respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. This project will help assess which air pollutants need to be reduced to not further aggravate the spread of a pandemic or epidemic.

More

CovGenAir: “The role of chronic diseases, environmental and genetic influences on the infection with SARS-CoV-2: boosters, effect modifiers or mediators?” (2021-2024)

The aim of COVGENAIR is to assess the role of chronic diseases, environmental and genetic variation and their interplay on the infection with SARS-CoV-2 in three comprehensively phenotyped longitudinal cohort studies from Germany covering different regions and age groups. Through antibody measurements against the SARS-Cov-2 virus, the assessment of weekly symptoms as well as re-examinations in all three cohorts, we will contribute to the elucidation of the environmental and molecular pathways, which could increase the risk of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, identify susceptible subjects and determine the long-term post-COVID-19 health outcomes on the respiratory, cardiometabolic and neurological system.

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AIR-LOCK: “Effect of air pollution reductions on mortality during the COVID-19 lockdown: A natural experiment study” (2021-2023)

This multi-country study will evaluate whether changes in mortality are associated with changes in ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels before, during, and after COVID-19 lockdowns and disentangle the short-term effects of NO2 versus PM2.5 on mortality. The analysis will be conducted in four countries: China, Germany, Italy, and the United States, see also https://ysph.yale.edu/climate/research/chen-lab/air-lock/.

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UFP@NAKOBayern: “Long-term exposure to ultrafine particles and health effects in Bavarian centers of the NAKO study”

The aim of UFP@NAKOBayern is to assess the long-term health effects of ultrafine particles (UFP, particles with a diameter of less than 100 nanometers); see also https://www.ibe.med.uni-muenchen.de/lehrstuehle/Peters/projekte/ufp_nako_pdf.pdf. The study will be conducted using data from the two Bavarian centers (Augsburg and Regensburg) of the German National Cohort (NAKO) study.

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RADIOMICS: “Patterns of White Matter Lesions in the Brain: Impact of Air Pollution on the Variability of Lifetime Trajectories” (2019-2023)

To better understand the impact of influencing factors on White Matter Lesion (WML) occurrence in the brain, such as ambient air pollution, developing automated algorithms to uncover the spatial distribution patterns of WML and establishing an easy-to-use quantification parameter for this distribution is imperative. Therefore, using machine-learning based algorithms, the goal is to quantify the association of long-term exposure to air pollution with WML volume as well as spatial distribution patterns of WMLs, with an additional focus on specific participant groups (e.g. high body mass index or hypertension) as it is hypothesized that certain population subgroups are particularly susceptible to the effects of air pollution on the brain.

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ELAPSE: "Effects of Low-Level Air Pollution: a Study in Europe" (2016-2021)

Epidemiological cohort studies have consistently found associations between long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution and a range of morbidity and mortality endpoints. Recent evaluations by the World Health Organization and the Global Burden of Disease study have suggested that these associations may be non-linear, and persist at very low concentrations. Therefore, ELAPSE aims to investigate if the long-term exposure to low concentrations of outdoor air pollution is related to adverse health effects.

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Collaborations with US EPA

PREVIOUS PROJECTS

  • ULTRA III: "ENVIRONMENTAL NANOPARTICLES AND HEALTH: Exposure, Modeling and Epidemiology of Nanoparticles and their Composition within KORA"
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  • GeUmGe-Net: "Gender, Environment and Health – Geschlecht, Umwelt und Gesundheit“
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  • TRANSPHORM: "Transport related Air Pollution and Health impacts – Integrated Methodologies for Assessing Particulate Matter"
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  • UFIREG: "Ultrafine particles – an evidence based contribution to the development of regional and European environmental and health policy"
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  • "Health impact of improved air quality during the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing, China"
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  • HEI project: “Ambient and controlled particle exposures as triggers for acute ECG-changes, and the role of anti-oxidant status”
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  • EPA STAR 2: "Source-specific health effects of ultrafine and fine particles"
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  • “Combining individual and central site measurements of ultrafine particles: Complex statistical analyses of source-dependent health effects”
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  • ESCAPE: "Effects of long-term exposure to air pollution on health in European cohorts"
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  • DEPS: “Diabetes and the Environment Panel Study in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. A cooperation project between HMGU and US EPA (Human Studies Division, Chapel Hill, North Carolina)”
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  • AIRGENE: "Air pollution and inflammatory response in myocardial infarction survivors: gene-environment interaction in a high risk group"
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  • "Short-term health effects of fine and ultrafine particle pollution in Beijing, China"
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  • HEI Erfurt I: "Daily mortality and fine and ultrafine particles in Erfurt, Germany"
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  • HEI Erfurt II: "Improved air quality and its influences on short-term health effects in Erfurt, Eastern Germany"
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  • EPA STAR 1: "Inflammatory response and cardiovascular risk factors in elderly subjects with angina pectoris or COPD in association with fine and ultrafine particles"
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  • HEI Augsburg: "Particulate air pollution and the onset of nonfatal myocardial infarction – A case-crossover study"
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  • HEAPSS: "Health effects of air pollution on susceptible subpopulations". Traditional air pollutants, ultrafine particles and myocardial infarction: database and health assessment
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  • Ultra II: "Exposure and risk assessment for fine and ultrafine particles in ambient air - ULTRA II"
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Health effects of Weather and Climate:

MCC Collaborative Research Network - A multi-country multi-city collaboration on a program of research on associations between environmental stressors, climate, and health

The MCC research team aims to produce epidemiological evidence on associations between environmental stressors, weather, climate, and health. The network facilitates the availability of a large dataset from different countries or populations where each researcher can propose to investigate specific research questions, thereby, creating a formalized yet flexible method of collaboration.

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ATTACH: ATTributing heAt-related excess mortality and morbidity to Climate cHange (2021-2025)

The goal of this project is to quantify to what extent anthropogenic climate change has already increased heat-related mortality and hospitalizations in Germany over recent decades. It employs a recently developed approach to derive climate counterfactuals, mimicking a world without climate change, from century-long observational temperature records. The epidemiological models, established with time-series regression methods, are differentiated by cause, age, and sex.

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EXHAUSTION: “Exposure to heat and air pollution in Europe – cardiopulmonary impacts and benefits of mitigation and adaptation” (2019-2023)

This project aims to quantify the future burden of cardio-pulmonary disease (CPD) morbidity and mortality attributable to heat and air pollution based upon the exposure-response association from retrospective data and the latest climate modelling techniques, also modelling the socio-economic cost estimates for CPD. Furthermore, health co-benefits and cost estimates of future adaptation as well as greenhouse gas mitigation actions will be projected.

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HI-CAM: “Helmholtz-Initiative Climate Adaptation and Mitigation: two Sides of the same Coin” (2019-2021)

Climate change poses a major threat for the ecosystems and the human health, and its magnitude will increase in the future, if no action is taken. Within the framework of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative, researchers will focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Net Zero 2050 (mitigation) cluster aims for quick and consistent emissions reduction, while the Adapting to Extreme Events (adaptation) cluster aims to investigate how climate change affects us now, and in the future via climate projections. There is an additional communication cluster aiming to present the scientific results to the broader society.

Official website of the HI-CAM Initiative: https://www.helmholtz-klima.de/en

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PREVIOUS PROJECTS

  • “Interactive effects of air temperature and air pollution on daily myocardial infarctions in the region of Augsburg” (2017-2018)
    Project Description
  • "Impact of Meteorological Parameters on Suicide Rates in Germany“ (2016-2017)
    Project Description

 

Health effects of Environmental Noise:

Noise2NAKO(AI): "AI Methods linking Environment and Health - a large-scale cohort application" (2020-2022)

The aim of the project is to develop data science methods in the domains of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to advance currently available noise maps, improve the quantification of noise impacts on health and delineate the complex interplay between environmental, contextual and individual socio-economic and health data. The project is designed as close interdisciplinary collaboration between data science, earth observation and environmental epidemiology.

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Cross-topic projects:

MetaMap3: "Metadata generation, enrichment and linkage across the three domains health, environment and earth observation" (2021-2023)

This project deals with compilation, generation and enrichment of machine-readable and interoperable metadata schemes for exemplary data of the three domains Health, Earth & Environment and Aeronautics, Space & Transport.

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INGER: "Integrating gender into environmental health research: Building a sound evidence basis for gender-sensitive prevention and environmental health (2017-2021)

The aim of the proposed project is to develop methods for gender-sensitive data collection and data analyses in population-based studies on environmental health to be able to analyse the impacts of sex/gender and to build a sound basis for gender-sensitive prevention and environmental health protection. The project is designed as close interdisciplinary collaboration between environmental epidemiology, toxicology, public health, and gender studies.

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PREVIOUS PROJECTS

  • Nitrogen dioxide: population-weighted exposure assessment and quantification of environmental burden of disease in Germany
    Project description
  • POPDIAB: "Relationship between blood concentrations of persistent organic pollutants and regional difference in risk of type 2 diabetes in Germany" (2016)
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