UW News

Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences


September 26, 2022

Heat-related mortality risk is widespread across Washington state, study shows

W in sunshine

Heat-related deaths occur across Washington state, even in regions with typically milder climates. This is the most extensive study yet of heat-related mortality in Washington state, and the first to look beyond the major population to and include rural areas. Researchers used statistical methods to uncover “hidden” deaths that may have listed something else, like illness or a chronic disease, as the primary cause.


August 11, 2022

Bird behavior influenced by human activity during COVID-19 lockdowns

a bird flaps its wings on a branch

For birds that inhabit developed areas of the Pacific Northwest, the reduction in noise and commotion from COVID-19 lockdowns may have allowed them to use a wider range of habitats in cities, a new University of Washington study has found.


August 2, 2022

Popular map for exploring environmental health disparities, vulnerabilities in Washington gets an update

Since it first launched in 2019, Washington state’s Environmental Health Disparities Map has been used to help decisionmakers and government agencies engage with overburdened communities to clean up contamination, improve buildings and electric grids, plant trees and many other projects. Using a complex matrix of data, this open-access, interactive map ranks Washington’s nearly 1,500 U.S….


July 12, 2022

UW study strengthens evidence of link between air pollution and child brain development

Seattle traffic

Air pollution is not just a problem for lungs. Increasingly, research suggests air pollution can influence childhood behavioral problems and even IQ. A new study led by the University of Washington has added evidence showing that both prenatal and postnatal exposure to air pollution can harm kids. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found…


May 24, 2022

Video: Experts collaborate to troubleshoot necessary fires and harmful smoke

Forest on fire with smoke billowing, as seen from a helicopter

Forest fire smoke can make you sick, and we’re experiencing more them. In terms of public health, it seems logical to reduce forest fires to limit unhealthy air pollution, but forest managers are increasingly seeing prescribed burning as an essential tool to reduce explosive wildfires. How should we plan to deal with the impacts of these fires?


May 7, 2022

Consensus approach proposed to protect human health from intentional and wild forest fires

Prescribed forest fire

All forest fire smoke is bad for people, but not all fires in forests are bad. This is the conundrum faced by experts in forest management and public health: Climate change and decades of fire suppression that have increased fuels are contributing to larger and more intense wildfires and, in order to improve forest health…


February 28, 2022

UW authors in IPCC report emphasize threats to human health and well-being

Two University of Washington experts in climate change and health are lead authors of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The new report titled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptations and Vulnerability, published Monday morning, details in over three thousand pages a “dire warning” about the consequences of inaction on reducing…


January 26, 2022

Air pollution from planes, roads infiltrates schools and can be dramatically reduced with portable air filters

Professor testing air quality

What started as a University of Washington-led project to measure air pollution near Sea-Tac International Airport has led to schools in the area installing portable air filters to improve indoor air quality. First, UW researchers found they were able to parse aircraft pollution from roadway pollution in the communities under Sea-Tac International Airport flight paths…


December 17, 2021

Deforestation-fueled heat already affecting millions of outdoor workers in the tropics

series of maps

New research from an interdisciplinary team at the University of Washington, Duke University and The Nature Conservancy shows how local temperature increases in the tropics – compounded by accelerating deforestation – may already be jeopardizing the well-being and productivity of outdoor workers.


November 11, 2021

Deforestation, climate change linked to more worker deaths and unsafe conditions

Outdoor workers in the world’s lower-latitude tropical forests may face a greater risk of heat-related deaths and unsafe working conditions because of deforestation and climate warming, according to a study led by The Nature Conservancy, the University of Washington and Indonesia’s Mulawarman University. In the study, researchers found that increased temperatures of 0.95 C (1.7…


October 5, 2021

UW joins USAID’s $125M project to detect emerging viruses with pandemic potential

Showing a bat

To better identify and prevent future pandemics, the University of Washington has become a partner in a five-year global, collaborative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The newly launched Discovery & Exploration of Emerging Pathogens – Viral Zoonoses, or DEEP VZN project, has approximately $125 million in anticipated funding and will be led…


October 1, 2021

UW study provides rare window into work life of app-based drivers during pandemic

When you get into the car of the app-based driver you just tapped up on your phone, you expect and hope the driver and the car are safe and capable of getting you where you need to go. Apps rate drivers, which you can see. But what if the driver is sick? What if the…


September 7, 2021

Research, education hub on ‘coastal resiliency’ will focus on earthquakes, coastal erosion and climate change

tsunami warning sign on the beach

The new Cascadia Coastlines and Peoples Hazards Research Hub, led by Oregon State University and the University of Washington, will study coastal hazards and community resilience. The National Science Foundation awarded $18.9 million for the hub over five years.


August 6, 2021

UW expert discusses protecting workers from wildfire smoke

  With wildfire smoke forecast for next week in Seattle and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Oregon posting rules for keeping workers safe during increasingly smoky conditions and heat in that state, we caught up with a University of Washington expert on worker safety for advice. Check out Professor Baker’s advice on worker safety…


August 4, 2021

Fine particulate air pollution associated with higher risk of dementia

Pollution map Puget Sound region

Using data from two large, long-running study projects in the Puget Sound region — one that began in the late 1970s measuring air pollution and another on risk factors for dementia that began in 1994 — University of Washington researchers identified a link between air pollution and dementia. In the UW-led study, a small increase…


July 30, 2021

Food insecurity remains high and need for assistance dramatically up in Washington

Food bank scene

Washington residents continue to experience a dramatically higher level of food insecurity — from 10% before the COVID-19 pandemic to 27%, according to the latest University of Washington and Washington State University research on food insecurity and food assistance in the state. The study team also found that need for food assistance has continued to…


July 16, 2021

20 UW researchers elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021

Twenty scientists and engineers at the University of Washington are among the 38 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021, according to a July 15 announcement. New members were chosen for “their outstanding record of scientific and technical achievement, and their willingness to work on behalf of the Academy to bring the best available science to bear on issues within the state of Washington.”


May 17, 2021

UW’s Dr. Catherine Karr: ‘Major chronic health problems facing children today’ linked to air pollution

Catherine Karr

With evidence of the health hazards facing children from air pollution growing, The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday published a policy statement meant to bring those hazards to light and to encourage and direct policy to improve children’s health. Policy co-author Dr. Catherine Karr, a professor in the University of Washington’s School of Public…


October 5, 2020

Video: Using ‘Street View’ to track pandemic in Seattle over time

A 360 camera is mounted on top of a sedan

As the city of Seattle shut down in March 2020 to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, a group of University of Washington researchers decided to track how the city would react.


Women, workers of color filling most ‘high-hazard/low-reward’ jobs in Washington

When exploring data on Washington workers during the pandemic — demographics, working conditions, wages and benefits, and risks of exposure to disease — the authors of a new report found that women hold two-thirds of the jobs in the harshest category of work. “The big takeaway from our research,” said David West, a co-author of…


September 30, 2020

UW researchers driving around Seattle to track COVID-19 response over time

A panoramic view of a street corner. Cars and a pedestrian are labeled

UW researchers developed a project that scans the streets every few weeks to document how Seattle has reacted to the pandemic and what recovery looks like.


September 17, 2020

Environmental health professor emeritus Sverre Vedal serves on committee studying respiratory effects of Southwest Asia military service

Dr. Sverre Vedal, University of Washington professor emeritus of environmental and health sciences, served on an expert committee for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine studying the long-term respiratory health impacts of military service in Southeast Asia. Vedal is a pulmonary physician.

Dr. Sverre Vedal, UW professor emeritus of environmental and health sciences, served on an expert committee for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine studying the long-term respiratory health impacts of military service in Southeast Asia.


August 18, 2020

Data omission in key EPA insecticide study shows need for review of industry analysis

For nearly 50 years, a statistical omission tantamount to data falsification sat undiscovered in a critical study at the heart of regulating one of the most controversial and widely used pesticides in America. Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide created in the late 1960s by the Dow Chemical Co., has been linked to serious health problems, especially in children….


June 24, 2020

Study asks Washington state residents to describe food security and access during pandemic, economic downturn

a plate, knife and fork

A new online survey for Washington state residents has launched to gather data on how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn have affected food access and economic security. The Washington State Food Security Survey, which went live June 18 and runs through July 31, is open to all Washington state residents aged 18 or over.


Videos: If you fish the Duwamish in Seattle, better eat the salmon — Comer el salmón, Ăn cá hồi, បរិភោគត្រីសាម៉ុង — and here’s how

It could take another generation before resident fish in the heavily polluted Lower Duwamish Waterway in Seattle will be safe to eat. Yet many fishers from a wide range of cultural backgrounds continue to fish the 5-mile stretch of river for fun, cultural connections and food even as cleanup of this designated Superfund site continues….


June 23, 2020

75% of US workers can’t work exclusively from home, face greater risks during pandemic

Barista making latte

About three-quarters of U.S. workers, or 108 million people, are in jobs that cannot be done from home during a pandemic, putting these workers at increased risk of exposure to disease. This majority of workers are also at higher risk for other job disruptions such as layoffs, furloughs or hours reductions, a University of Washington…


May 27, 2020

UW experts on challenges to worker safety in meat processing industry

Meat processing plants face challenges in keeping workers safe during the pandemic. Carrie Freshour, a UW assistant professor of geography, and Marissa Baker, an assistant professor in the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and an expert on worker safety related to infectious diseases, provides comments on what the industry can do to protect workers.


May 22, 2020

Video: How cloth face masks protect people during the pandemic

The dean of the UW School of Public Health shares information about using face coverings, including what kinds of masks are appropriate to wear and how they protect people.


May 18, 2020

Soundbites: UW dean of public health gives advice on where and how (and how not) to wear masks 

Beginning May 18, King County is directing people to wear face coverings in most public settings. Expert Hilary Godwin answers questions about the directive and shares information about using face coverings.


May 11, 2020

EarthLab announces Innovation Grant recipients for 2020

Research projects funded for 2020 by EarthLab’s Innovation Grants Program will study how vegetation might reduce pollution, help an Alaskan village achieve safety and resilience amid climate change, organize a California river’s restoration with tribal involvement, compare practices in self-managed indigenous immigrant communities and more.


May 6, 2020

UW experts on understanding ‘quarantine fatigue’ and protecting workers

painted close sign

As the push to relax social and economic restrictions for combating the pandemic gain traction, we need to understand personal motives behind what many experts consider a dangerous rush to “reopen” and how to protect workers most at risk when communities do “go back to work.” Three UW experts weigh in.


April 28, 2020

Agricultural pickers in US to see unsafely hot workdays double by 2050

pickers in field

A new study looks at temperature increases in counties across the United States where crops are grown. It also looks at different strategies the industry could adopt to protect workers’ health.


March 26, 2020

UW researcher identifies workers most harmed by economic disruption due to COVID-19

A closed sign

Only about 25% of the U.S. workforce — some 35.6 million people — are in jobs that can easily be done at home, a University of Washington researcher has determined, as these are the positions in which using a computer is important but interacting with the public is not. These jobs are typically in highly-paid…


March 24, 2020

UW researchers to study resilience, well-being among King County residents during pandemic

An artistic rendering of a coronavirus

University of Washington researchers have launched the King County COVID-19 Community Study — or KC3S — to gather data through April 19 on how individuals and communities throughout King County are coping with the measures put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


March 19, 2020

‘Sushi parasites’ have increased 283-fold in past 40 years

anisakis in salmon filet

A new study led by the University of Washington finds dramatic increases in the abundance of a worm that can be transmitted to humans who eat raw or undercooked seafood. Its 283-fold increase in abundance since the 1970s could have implications for the health of humans and marine mammals, which both can inadvertently eat the worm.


March 6, 2020

Millions of US workers at risk of infections on the job, UW researchers calculate, emphasizing need to protect against COVID-19

Artwork of security agent and passenger

A University of Washington researcher calculates that 14.4 million workers face exposure to infection once a week and 26.7 million at least once a month in the workplace, pointing to an important population needing protection as the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, continues to break out across the U.S. Marissa Baker, an assistant professor in the…


February 13, 2020

Effectiveness of travel bans – readily used during infectious disease outbreaks – mostly unknown, study finds

While travel bans are frequently used to stop the spread of an emerging infectious disease, a new University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University study of published research found that the effectiveness of travel bans is mostly unknown.


February 10, 2020

Increases in minimum wage may not have anticipated positive health effects, study shows

Coins spilled from jar

  In the decade-long absence of federal action, many states, counties and cities have increased minimum wages to help improve the lives of workers. While political debate over these efforts has long been contentious, scientific research on the health effects of raising the minimum wage is relatively new. Some studies have found higher minimum wages…


December 16, 2019

Faculty/staff honors: Distinguished teaching honor, new editor for environmental health journal, overseeing education in Uganda, Allen School honors

statue of George Washington on UW campus

Recent honors to UW faculty and staff include the new editorship of a major journal, a post with the Republic of Uganda and honors from the American College of Physicians, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


December 3, 2019

Communities around Sea-Tac Airport exposed to a unique mix of air pollution associated with aircraft

Communities underneath and downwind of jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are exposed to a type of ultrafine particle pollution that is distinctly associated with aircraft, according to a new University of Washington study, the first to identify the unique signature of aircraft emissions in the state of Washington. The finding comes from the two-year…



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