Environmental health sciences (EHS) doctoral student Abosede Sarah Alli was named one of the winners of the 2020 New Researcher Abstract Award by the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE). She received the distinction as part of the ISEE’s 32nd annual conference, held virtually this year with 1800+ participants from 70+ countries convening online to share valuable research and discussion for improving environmental health policy worldwide.
Alli received the award, which recognizes excellence in student researcher poster abstracts, for a submission titled “Spatial-temporal patterns and influence of land-use and socio-economic factors on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in Accra, Ghana.” In one of the largest field measurement campaigns in the sub-Saharan African (SSA) region, Alli is documenting the space-time patterns in fine particle (PM2.5) pollution in Accra, Ghana’s capital and largest city. Under the supervision of assistant professor of environmental health sciences Raphael Arku, Alli is using state-of-the-art methods, including spatial statistics, to develop highly resolved pollution maps for the city and to identify their potential sources over space and time. The study will guide urban environmental policies designed to improve air quality in growing SSA cities.
“I was incredibly excited to receive such a prestigious award and pleased that our research received recognition from the largest group of environmental epidemiologists globally,” says Alli. “We are working and collecting high quality data in a region severely impacted by urban environmental pollution but lacks local monitoring infrastructure to support health impact assessments and policy formulation. Our study fills this research gap in Accra by providing compelling evidence to support the implementation of systematic air pollution monitoring as well as policy initiatives aimed at improving air quality in the sub-region.”
Arku notes that it is extremely challenging to design and execute fieldwork in a fast-growing city like Accra. “There are huge differences in neighborhood-level pollution caused by traffic patterns and widespread burning of biomass fuel amid other factors,” he says. “Despite the challenge, Abosede is determined to look at air pollution in this region in a whole new way: to understand how pollution levels vary in space and time in relation to diverse sources and factors, and to provide a high-quality data that authorities need to formulate and implement policies to reduce human exposures and health impacts. Urban growth in SSA has been largely unplanned especially in relation to housing, transportation, and energy, making air pollution increasingly a public health concern for SSA urban residents. This is why her work is so important.”