Project 4

Human Health Impacts of Ener​gy Transitions:
Today and Under a Changing W​orld


Michelle Bell, (Yale University)

Trude Storelvmo (Yale), Nicole Deizel (Yale), Yawei Zhang (Yale), Jiyoung Son (Yale); Roger Peng (Johns Hopkins)

Yale University (New Haven, CT), Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)


Decision-makers who protect health from air pollution are faced with complex systems involving multiple emission sources, variation in health response by population and region, and temporal changes such as climate change and economic development. We will provide scientific evidence and tools to aid sound policy by investigating:

  1. factors that could influence air pollution-health associations, including modifiable factors and factors that could account for regional variability in observed associations (e.g., urbanicity, land-use), for PM2.5 and O3 on risk of cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions, including understudied rural populations;
  2. health impacts from energy transitions using the most up-to-date scientific information on the multipollutant mixture, regional variation, and sensitive subpopulations; and
  3. how climate change could affect health impacts of energy transitions and the co-benefits/costs of air quality policies by calculating their climate change impact.

We hypothesize that health impacts will vary considerably by energy transition, region, and population, and will be influenced by modifiable factors such as urbanicity/rurality. We further hypothesize that the climate impacts of air quality policies will vary by energy transition.


We will achieve the objectives by:

  1. Bayesian hierarchical modeling of data for the Medicare population for the eastern U.S. (2001-2008) and PM2.5 and O3 estimates from fused air quality modeling (CMAQ) and air monitoring data;
  2. linking concentration changes from energy transitions for 2010-2050 for the U.S. (Projects 1 and 3) to concentration-response functions from Objective 1 and those identified by comprehensive systematic reviews and meta- analyses of key pollutants, with statistical methods to incorporate uncertainty, including information from detailed exposure characterization (from Project 2); and
  3. linking concentration estimates under global change to health response, and using the multi-model CMIP5 ensemble to estimate the climate change impact of multiple energy transitions.
Expected Results

We will produce innovative estimates of associations between air pollutants and hospital admissions, including under-studied factors of urbanicity/rurality and land use. Results will integrate the impacts of energy transitions, climate change, land use/cover change, and temporal trends in modifiable factors. Key outcomes are a better understanding of how policy and energy choices, land use, and other decisions can impact health. The research framework will provide the basis for future analysis of air pollution, energy, health, and climate for other policy strategies and updated scientific findings.