Past Features

April 7, 2008 (Vol. 7, No. 6)

Professor Maantay Presents Asthma Study at Columbia

Juliana Maantay
Professor Juliana Maantay
Professor Juliana Maantay (Environmental, Geographic, and Geological Sciences) spoke at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health on March 26, giving a talk on "Asthma and Air Pollution in the Bronx: Using GIS for environmental justice and health research."

Professor Maantay's presentation—part of a seminar series called "The Power of Maps: Public Health and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)"—acquainted the audience with her work at Lehman's Urban GISc Lab, which explores the relationship between human health and the natural and built environment. Using the ongoing asthma and air pollution study as a framework, she illustrated the concepts of data exploration, visualization, integration, and analysis.

The study, which investigates the spatial correspondence between asthma hospitalizations and local sources of air pollution, shows that people in the Bronx who live in close proximity to polluting facilities or polluting land use are up to 60 percent more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than those who do not live near such locations.

"Dr. Maantay is a pioneer in devising and using GIS research methods for understanding patterns of disease in urban settings and for identifying and lessening environmental risks for New York's population," said Dr. Ernest Drucker, professor of epidemiology at Columbia and Montefiore/Einstein, who organized the seminar series. "Her many studies based in New York City have both addressed many specific health issues (asthma, cancer, heart disease) and helped to establish the importance of GIS research in public health and for effective advocacy for environmental justice."

Dr. Maantay also discussed in detail some recent innovations in GIS analytical methods that have been developed by her and her team of researchers. These new techniques have wide applicability and have been made available to other researchers who deal in environmental assessment and health geographics.

See for examples of student and faculty GISc projects and recent publications.