Atmospheric Integrated Research at University of California, Irvine

Health Effects

Michael Fortun

Contact Information

Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG) room 3308
Mail to:
UCI Department of Anthropology
3151 Social Science Plaza A
Irvine, CA 92697-5100

Office: Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG) room 3302 Mail to: UCI Department of Anthropology 3151 Social Science Plaza A Irvine, CA 92697-5100

Michael Fortun, anthropology associate professor, studies the contemporary sciences and scientists of genomics and, most recently, air pollution science. He’s interested in how air pollution affects people’s health and bodies, and how scientists, engineers, practitioners and community people all are trying to find new ways to work together to understand air pollution and its mass affects on humans. He researches what kinds of data infrastructures are being built and maintained – as well as those that need to be developed - to better deal with the biological, social and health aspects of consequences of air pollution.
He’s authored two books and more than 35 articles which have been featured in leading journals including Big Data and Society, Cultural Anthropology, Social Studies of Science, American Psychologist, and American Anthropologist, to name a few.
Synergystic Activities:

  • American Anthropological Association
  • Society for Cultural Anthropology
  • Society for Social Studies of Science
Research Interests: 

Anthropology of science, air pollution science, data science, genetics, history of science, United States, Iceland

Kim Fortun

Contact Information

Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG) room 3302
Mail to:
UCI Department of Anthropology
3151 Social Science Plaza A
Irvine, CA 92697-5100

(949) 824-0646

Kim Fortun, professor and department chair in anthropology, studies environmental risk and disaster. She uses experimental ethnographic methods to understand how people in different geographic regions and organizations deal with environmental problems, health risks and major disasters. She’s particularly focused on industrial disasters – chemical plant explosions and massive breakdown of industrial systems. Her fieldwork has spanned highly populated regions in India and the United States where she’s focused on both catastrophic disasters and more recently on slower moving disasters, including air pollution. Through research, she’s found that that air pollution - recognized as a major killer of people worldwide - has reached catastrophic proportions in India and is responsible for a growing number of health concerns.
Together with her husband and anthropology associate professor Michael Fortun, they’ve found that scientific research on the sources and health impacts of air pollution has consolidated impressively in recent decades, showing that air pollution is not only responsible for a host of respiratory ailments, but may also contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s and diabetes.  New understanding of the significance of air pollution has also transformed approaches to public health, challenging governments at municipal, state, regional and national levels as well as organizations like the World Health Organization.
Synergystic Activities

  • Editorial Board Member, Political and Legal Anthropology Review (2005-present)
  • Society for Cultural Anthropology Task Force on Open Access (2011)
  • Committee Member, Section Assembly Advisory Board to American Anthropology Association's Committee on the future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP) (2011)
  • Board Member, Society of Cultural Anthropology (2006-2009)
Research Interests: 

Environmental problems and disaster, air pollution, history of environmental science and public health, interdisciplinary and international scientific collaboration, India, United States

Dr. Rufus Edwards

Contact Information

University of California, Irvine
Health Sciences/Public Health
Irvine, CA 92697-3957


UC Irvine School of Medicine: Professor, Epidemiology; Professor; Public Health
Professor Edwards’ research focuses on assessment of human exposures to household air pollution from solid fuel use and subsequent health effects; emissions from household combustion sources including greenhouse gases and particulate matter including black carbon; emissions from rural small scale industries; development of sampling and analysis techniques.  His recent work has been on emissions and secondary particle formation from solid fuel use in India and strategies to mitigate air pollution and improve health in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Dr. Edwards is a member of the WHO Indoor Air Quality Guidelines Development Group (GDG) to establish air quality guidelines for household combustion sources, and is lead convening author for the chapter on emissions from household solid fuel use. He is also a lead author for the chapter on models to link household energy use with indoor air quality on which the IWA tiers are based in the report. Dr. Edwards was Co-Chair of the Climate Working Group and serves on the Climate and Health co-benefit advisory group for Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.


  • Ph.D. 1999 in Exposure Measurement and Assessment, Rutgers and UMDNJ, Joint Degree
  • M.S. 1995 in Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University

Post-Doctoral researcher at the Finnish National Institute of Public Health, Kuopio, Finland. Analysis of Air Pollution Exposure Distributions of Adult Populations in Helsinki, as part of a European Union 4th Framework RTD Program funded multi-center study: EXPOLIS, sponsored by the Finnish National Academy of Sciences (1999-2000).

  • Post Doctoral Research Associate, Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.
  • Policy analyst for implications of household solid fuel use for global warming under the direction of Kirk Smith.
  • Incorporation of the household sector in the Clean Development Mechanism (2000-2003)
Research Interests: 

Air pollution: Human exposures to air pollution, indoor air pollution, paint emissions, emissions of climate-altering pollutant species, health co-benefits

Selected Honors and Awards: 
2009 Joan M. Daisey Outstanding Young Scientist Award, International Society of Exposure Science

Prof. Jun Wu

Contact Information

University of California, Irvine
University Research Park
100 Theory Bldg.; Suite #100
Mail Code: 7555
Irvine, CA 92697

(949) 824-0548

Assistant Professor in Public Health
Ph.D. in Environmental Health from University of California, Los Angeles.
Professor Wu's main research interests are air pollution exposure assessment and air pollution epidemiology in reproductive health.  The overarching goal of her research is to more accurately characterize air pollutant exposure and examine the impact of air pollution exposure on adverse health outcomes. 
Prof. Wu’s research in exposure assessment focuses on development and application of models to improve population and individual exposure assessment for air pollutants using geographical information system techniques and atmospheric dispersion and other modeling.  Previous research in exposure assessment has included:

  • development of an individual exposure model to retrospectively quantify vehicle-related air pollution exposures for individual children in a cohort study
  • quantification of the population exposure to naphthalene for the Southern California
  • development of methods to estimate particulate matter exposures before, during and after the 2003 Southern California wildfires
  • development of spatial-temporal models using GIS and advanced statistical methods for traffic-related pollutants

Prof. Wu’s research in environmental epidemiology focuses on the impact of air pollution on adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Previous health-related research included studies that linked traffic-related air pollution with preeclampsia and preterm births and biomarker-based polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure with missed abortion during early pregnancy. 

Research Interests: 
  • Air pollution exposure assessment
  • Air pollution epidemiology
Selected Honors and Awards: 
Health Effect Institute Walter A. Rosenblith New Investigator Award, 2010
International Society of Exposure Analysis Young Investigator Award, 2005
Samuel J. Tibbitts Fellowship, School of Public Health, UCLA, 2003
Chancellor’s Fellowship, UCLA, 2000, 2003
PWEA Student Research Award, Pennsylvania Water Environment Association, 2000

Prof. Michael T. Kleinman

Contact Information

University of California, Irvine
FRF 100
Mail Code: 1825
Irvine, CA 92697-182

(949) 824-4765

Professor of Environmental Toxicology and Co-Director of the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory in the Department of Community and Environmental Medicine, Adjunct Professor in College of Medicine [Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from New York University, NY]. Professor Kleinman brings to the ORU expertise in the health effects of air pollution on animals and humans, as well as the development of analytical techniques for assessing biological and physiological responses to exposure to environmental contaminants and for determining concentrations of important chemical species in air.

Environmental pollutants represent important potential causes of preventable neurological, cardiological and pulmonary diseases. The research in Dr. Kleinman’s laboratory uses immunological and molecular methods to examine the mechanisms by which toxic agents affect the lung and heart. Current studies include the effects of ambient particles on blood pressure and heart rate in sensitive animal models. Other studies examine the link between asthma and environmental exposures to ambient particles near real- world pollutant sources, such as freeways in Los Angeles.

Research focuses on mechanisms of cardiopulmonary injury following inhalation of toxic compounds. State-of-the-art methods are used to evaluate the roles of free radicals and oxidative stress in sensitive human volunteers and laboratory animals. In vitro methods are used to evaluate specific mechanisms. Dr. Kleinman's current studies involve the inhalation exposures to manufactured and combustion-generated nanomaterials fine and coarse particles using state of the art field exposure systems and real-time physiological monitoring methods. Recent findings demonstrate that fine and ultrafine particles near heavily trafficked roads increase the risk of developing airway allergies but this allergenic potential is attenuated at greater distances downwind of the source. The chemical and physical changes in the aerosol responsible for the heightened allegenicity of the near-source particles is an important focus of Dr. Kleinman’s research.

Biological mechanisms related to oxidative stress have been identified after particlulate matter exposure and Dr. Kleinman’s team is also pursuing how these mechanisms affect pathological and physiological changes in the heart and lungs. Other interests include analytical and atmospheric chemistry, environmental sampling and analysis, and the application of mathematical and statistical methods to environmental and occupational assessments of exposure and risk.

Prior to joining the faculty at UCI in 1982, he was the Director of the Aerosol Exposure and Analytical Laboratory at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, CA. Dr. Kleinman was also a Physical Scientist at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Health and Safety Laboratory (now the DOE Environmental Measurements Laboratory) in New York and has published approximately 100 peer-reviewed articles in the fields of environmental health sciences, atmospheric chemistry and radiochemistry, transport and fate of airborne contaminants in tropospheric and stratospheric air, apportionment and identification of sources of air pollution, and the effects of air pollution on health. Dr. Kleinman is the current chair of the California Air Quality Advisory Committee, a member of the U.S. EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and also chairs the Executive Committee for the U.C. Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program.

Research Interests: 
  • Inhalation toxicology
  • Oxidative stress
  • Cardiopulmonary diseases
Selected Honors and Awards: 
University Extension Teacher of the Year (2001).
National Academy of Science - Co-Principal Investigator , Strategies for Protection of Deployed Forces from Chemical and Biological Weapons (1998-2000).
UCI Committee of 1000 Award for Research (1997)

Prof. Donald R. Blake

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry
University of California, Irvine
570 Rowland Hall
Mail Code: 2025
Irvine, CA 92697

(949) 824-4195

Professor of Chemistry at UC Irvine.

Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of California Irvine.

Professor Blake brings state-of-the-art techniques for measuring trace gases in air and in human breath to the ORU.  Atmospheric composition is changing at an unprecedented rate. His research group identifies and quantifies atmospheric gases in (a) remote locations throughout the Pacific region from Alaska to New Zealand: (b) highly polluted cities throughout the world; and (c) areas with special conditions, such as burning forests and/or agricultural wastes, or the marine boundary layer in oceanic locations with high biological emissions. Whole air samples are collected on land, ships, and aircraft and are returned to his  laboratory for analysis.

Gas chromatography utilizing flame ionization detection, electron capture detection, and mass spectrometry is the main analytical tool. A three-gas chromatograph analytical system is used to quantify about 150 halocarbons, nonmethane hydrocarbons, and alkyl nitrates ranging in mole fraction from about 2 parts per billion to 10 parts per quadrillion.

In an attempt to determine "background" concentrations of selected trace gases, since 1978 he and his team have been collecting air samples at surface locations every three months in Pacific regions from northern Alaska to southern New Zealand. Results from this "background" study recently led to their  discovery that methyl bromide, a gas that significantly affects stratospheric ozone concentrations, has a tropospheric seasonal cycle. This finding provides an important constraint on hemispheric and seasonal methyl bromide sources and removal processes.

Energy use, principally fossil fuel combustion, in eastern Asia has increased substantially during the past decade and likely will continue into the next decade. Concentration data for samples collected in various Chinese cities and rural areas by group members and colleagues from Hong Kong and Guangzhou will be used to help better constrain emission inventories used in chemical models of the atmosphere.

Since 1988 his research group has been involved in NASA- and NSF-sponsored airborne projects. The general motivation for these experiments is regional or global change. For example, the 1991 and 1994 NASA Pacific Exploratory Missions-west (PEM-west) were designed in part to determine baseline concentrations of trace gases and aerosols in air advected from the Asian continent.

NASA’s 2001 TRACE-P airborne mission flown in the same region and season (winter/spring) as the 1994 PEM and provided valuable information regarding changes in atmospheric concentrations of important trace gases. The Japanese Space Agency missions (PEACE) flown in winter and spring of 2002 were in part designed to extend the seasonal observations of the TRACE-P project. In 2004 and 2006 the group flew on NASA’s INTEX missions that were designed to study chemistry and transport of pollutants from mega cities. NSF also funded the 2006 Mexico City airborne study. In 2007 the group flew on NASA’s TC4 mission in which upwelling of tropical air into the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere was studied. In 2008 the group flew on the NASA DC-8 aircraft for a polar mission in which boreal forest fire emissions and Arctic haze were studied.

Graduate students are involved in building equipment, aircraft integration, collecting samples during flights, analyzing samples at his home laboratory, interpreting data, preparing manuscripts, designing sampling studies for various projects, and writing proposals. 

Research Interests: 
  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Analysis of trace gases in exhaled breath
Selected Honors and Awards: 
American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology 2013
Elected Fellow of AGU 2009
Lauds and Laurels 2009
Elected Fellow of AAAS 2008
Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, Physical Sciences 2008
NASA Group Achievement Award 1993, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2009
Outstanding Professor Alpha Phi Society 2000, 2002, 2005
ACS Chuck Bennett Service through Chemistry 2004
Excellence in Undergraduate Research 2001
UCI Chemistry Department Outstanding Teaching Award 1979
Bank of America Chemistry Award 1975