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From MSU Today on Impact Radio: To explore one of the most critical health/environment intersections – how the very air we breathe can cause heart disease and diabetes and contribute to the problems of obesity – Michigan State University has been named a Clean Air Research Center by the Environmental Protection Agency.
A five-year, $8 million grant – led by MSU’s Jack Harkema, a University Distinguished Professor of pathobiology and diagnostic investigation in the College of Veterinary Medicine – will fund three major research projects with the creation of the Great Lakes Air Center for Integrative Environmental Research. The research team will study the exact role air pollutants, most notably fine particles and ozone, have on cardiometabolic syndrome, a collection of interrelated risk factors leading to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases that affect about a third of adult Americans.
“In tandem, the cardiometabolic syndrome and air pollution threaten human health worldwide,” he says. “We propose that not only are individuals with pre-existing abnormalities at greater risk for the health effects of air pollution exposure but that air pollution itself may promote the development of cardiometabolic syndrome.
“Air pollution in the Great Lakes region is complex due to a large diversity of multi-pollutant ‘airsheds’ (the atmospheric equivalent of watersheds),” says Harkema, whose research team is made up of members from MSU, the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. “This complexity is due to a large assortment of emission sources, including heavy industry, dense motor vehicle traffic and high concentrations of coal-fired power plants.
“The health effects of these multi-pollutant airsheds are complex and understudied.”
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