Environmental Pollution, Climatic Conditions and Health Effects (EPACC)
The Environmental Pollution, Climatic Conditions and Health Effects (EPACC) project seeks to generate more empirical evidence on the relationship between environmental pollution and poor climate conditions, particularly among older adults. This study comprises two components, with EPACC 1 focusing on Ghana and Mexico, and EPACC 2 focusing on Canada.
While particulates (generated from PM2.5, PM10, NO, SO2, and CO concentrations) are known to enter and negatively affect the respiratory, cardiovascular and central nervous systems, there is minimal evidence on how said pollution affects more vulnerable groups around the world, particularly children and older adults. Exposure to ambient air pollution causes about 4.2 million deaths per year and is a growing threat to wellbeing, as it is the leading cause of declines in disability-adjusted life years among older adults (between 50 and 75 years). In Canada, where the percentage of older adults is expected to reach 22.5% by 2030, about 42 deaths per 100,000 are associated with air pollution. Variations in climatic conditions can lower one’s resilience to the impact of air pollution while worsening pre-existing air quality, particularly where environmental and social factors predispose marginalized groups to poorer health outcomes. Increased ambient temperature, for instance, has been linked to increases in Ozone and particulate pollution, all of which affect older adults’ cardiovascular and respiratory health. Extended exposure to high day and nighttime temperatures also has deleterious consequences for cognitive and psychological health, which also influences older adults’ capacity resilience to other diseases. As climate change continues to dramatically change weather patterns and other physical environment factors, it is crucial to generate rigorous evidence that quantifies the relationship between temperature and morbidity among older adults. It is also important to understand the exact mechanism this relationship manifests in for stronger climate action and health interventions for marginalized people.
EPACC takes a transdisciplinary approach to 1) understanding the effects of exposure to ambient air pollution on the health of older adults; 2) assessing how exposure to extreme climatic conditions, such as temperature, affects the health of older adults; 3) examining the interaction effect of exposure to ambient air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, and climatic conditions, on the health of older adults; and 4) exploring the gendered impact of climate change on health outcomes, particularly in the Global South. Health is measured through five domains, that is: visual impairment, cognitive impairment, psychosocial wellbeing, functional disability, and cardiometabolic and respiratory disease. Within each domain, two outcomes each are being measured. This study combines geospatial and longitudinal data with advanced statistical modeling to understand the interaction between environmental pollution, variations in climatic conditions, and the health of older adults and other marginalized groups.