West recognized as ‘Airkeeper’ for improving air quality

March 25, 2015

Jason West, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, will be recognized by the organization Clean Air Carolina at a special Airkeeper Awards reception this evening in Raleigh.

Dr. Jason West

Dr. Jason West

West’s research uses computer models to understand the exposure of the global population to outdoor air pollution. His research group has estimated that, around the world, over two million people likely die prematurely each year due to exposure to outdoor air pollution. His work also relates air pollution with climate change, informing decisions to address these problems simultaneously.

Clean Air Carolina’s annual tradition of honoring individuals and organizations for their leadership in air quality protection will highlight the contributions of a diverse group, which also includes an elected official and a respiratory therapist working with pediatric asthma patients.

“This is a wonderful honor,” said West. “Air pollution is underappreciated for its widespread health effects. It is truly satisfying to know that my research, and that of my colleagues, makes a difference in understanding the health effects of air pollution, and leads to action to address this important threat.”

Representatives from the medical community, environmental organizations, government and universities will gather to honor the work of West and three others on the eve of the first NC BREATHE Conference.

The awards will be presented by Clean Air Carolina’s executive director June Blotnick and Bill Schlesinger, former dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Special remarks will be made by Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to empowering people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.

“We are delighted to honor these individuals,” said Blotnick. “Their professional leadership and personal commitment to the cause of clean air is resulting in healthier communities across our state.”

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.

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