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Academic publications



Use of Visual Range Measurements to Predict PM2.5 Exposures in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan
Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, Oct. 2016
Military personnel deployed to Southwest Asia and Afghanistan were exposed to high levels of ambient particulate matter (PM) indicating the potential for exposure-related health effects. However, historical quantitative ambient PM exposure data for conducting epidemiological health studies are unavailable due to a lack of monitoring stations. Since visual range is proportional to particle light extinction (scattering and absorption), visibility can serve as a surrogate for PM2.5 concentrations where ground measurements are not available. We used data on visibility, relative humidity (RH), and PM2.5 ground measurements collected in Kuwait from years 2004 to 2005 to establish the relationship between PM2.5 and visibility. Read More

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A novel calibration approach using satellite and visibility observations to estimate PM2.5 exposures in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan
Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, Sept. 2016
In order to study effects of ambient particulate matter (PM) it was previously necessary to have access to a comprehensive air monitoring network. However, there are locations in the world where PM levels are above generally accepted exposure standards but lack a monitoring infrastructure. This is true in Iraq and other locations in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan where U.S. and other coalition troops were deployed beginning in 2001. Since aerosol optical depth (AOD), determined by satellite, and visual range (VR) are both highly related to atmospheric PM2.5 concentrations, we employed a novel approach that took advantage of historic airport VR measurements to calibrate the AOD-VR relationship and determine VR spatially and temporally... Read More

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Composition and Sources of Fine and Coarse Particles Collected during 2002–2010 in Boston, MA
Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, Feb. 2015

Identifying the sources, composition, and temporal variability of fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM2.5–10) particles is a crucial component in understanding particulate matter (PM) toxicity and establishing proper PM regulations. In this study, a Harvard Impactor was used to collect daily integrated fine and coarse particle samples every third day for 9 years at a single site in Boston, MA. In total, 1,960 filters were analyzed for elements, black carbon (BC), and total PM mass. Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) was used to identify source types and quantify their contributions to ambient PM2.5 and PM2.5–10. Read more





news publications



In the wake of Hurricane Matthew — to spray or not to spray?

The Hill, Nov. 2016
Confronted by devastating Hurricane Matthew, Florida residents and city officials have even more to deal with than the obvious destruction and loss at hand. When floods and rain subside, stagnant puddles and newly formed ponds persist — a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. What this has meant previously is aerial spraying of highly toxic organophosphate pesticides (OPs).
Just recall Hurricane Isabel in 2003, or Charley, Jeanne, Frances, and Katrina in 2004 and 2005. Don’t forget Hurricane Irene in 2011. In all instances, flooding resulted in real or anticipated increases in mosquito abundance, and aerial spraying of toxic OPs ensued.Out went the hurricanes and in came the pesticides. View Original Article.

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What You Didn’t Know About Rice -Tips to Lower Arsenic Levels
Cyprus Organics, Sept. 2015 
An element with widely recognized toxicity, arsenic is most often associated with groundwater contamination, particularly in places such as India. However, mounting evidence suggests that exposures in the United States are not to be trivialized. This is true in spite of the decades-old Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Safe Drinking Water Act. How can this be? Because arsenic in water isn’t the issue for most Americans, it’s the arsenic in food. And currently no U.S. regulations exist for monitoring arsenic in food. What is the main food to look out for, you ask? Unfortunately, a food that has become a staple in our diets; that is, rice. And among rice crops grown around the world, U.S. rice has the highest arsenic levels. In this article, I’ll discuss why that is and what specifically the health effects of arsenic exposure are. View Original Article.
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Marine Plastic Contamination: Implications for Public Health and the Environment
Johns Hopkins Water Institute Magazine, June. 2014
Contamination of our oceans by marine plastic has likely occurred since the onset of its mass production. However, it was not until the early 1970’s that reports first began describing plastic fragments floating in even the most remote waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Research and awareness efforts by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, among other groups, have since been instrumental in moving this long-standing issue towards center stage. To date, research confirms that plastic pollution accounts for an astonishing 60-80% of marine litter by mass. Read More
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Canada: The Once Green Oil Machine
Climate Change Guide, Oct. 2013
Long regarded as a green nation due to its environmental stewardship, recently Canada’s commitment to the environment has waned. As we’ve marched into 2013, this country has become the first nation to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Baring witness to this, one can only wonder where the nation’s values have gone. A landmark treaty, Kyoto commits member nations to reducing greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels. By withdrawing from the treaty Canada is not only failing in its commitment to the environment, but is failing in its commitment to the world as a whole. Backing out of Kyoto further sends a message to nations that climate change is no longer a pressing issue. If other countries follow suit, what began with Canada could spell disaster for the Treaty and mean massive setbacks to climate change mitigation. Read More

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Pesticides in Food
Cyprus Organics, Oct. 2012
Since the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s best selling book, Silent Spring, which essentially launched the environmental movement, the use of synthetic pesticides to control pests has been a major issue to the public as well as various heath and environmental groups. Today, the toxicity of various pesticides is well recognized to reach beyond specific target organisms, affecting both wildlife as well as human health.  Specifically, exposure to pesticides has been associated with a variety of health problems, ranging from mild headaches and fatigue to more severe cancers, birth defects, reduced fertility, and nerve damage.  In spite of the damage caused by pesticides, however, the use of these toxic chemicals remains rampant in both the United States and abroad, and in some cases is even increasing.  Consequently, pesticides are found everywhere in the environment and can be measured in the blood and urine of nearly every human being on earth! Read More
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Climate Change: Are We Paving the Way to Inaction?
The Berkeley Daily Planet, Aug. 2012
What will it mean to teach today’s students both sides of the “global warming debate?” Will this translate to a politically balanced and scientifically sound education? Well that is the consensus among members of California’s Los Alamitos School Board who now require the District to teach “controversial issues” such as global warming in a balanced way that presents both sides of the issue. Just because two theories surround an issue, however, does not make that issue controversial or mean that both theories deserve balanced attention. In the case of global warming, because theories surrounding the issue are not supported equally by the scientific community, these theories should not be given equal representation in the classroom. Read More

Shahir Masri © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

Health, Sustainability, & Environmental Justice