Rachel C. Nethery's research while affiliated with Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other places

Publications (69)

Article
Investigating the health impacts of wildfire smoke requires data on people's exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) across space and time. In recent years, it has become common to use machine learning models to fill gaps in monitoring data. However, it remains unclear how well these models are able to capture spikes in PM2.5 during and across...
Preprint
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Areal spatial misalignment, which occurs when data on multiple variables are collected using mismatched boundary definitions, is a ubiquitous obstacle to data analysis in public health and social science research. As one example, the emerging sub-field studying the links between political context and health in the United States faces significant sp...
Article
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality (AQ) monitors, the "gold standard" for measuring air pollutants, are sparsely positioned across the U.S. Low-cost sensors (LCS) are increasingly being used by the public to fill in the gaps in AQ monitoring; however, LCS are not as accurate as EPA monitors. In this work, we investigate factors...
Article
Health impact assessments (HIAs) have been used to evaluate the benefits and risks of cycling and other transportation interventions. Most HIAs use aggregate, city-level data rather than considering how impacts might vary across neighborhoods. To address this limitation, we developed a novel HIA framework for evaluating intra-city spatial variation...
Preprint
Background Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) and use of corticosteroids have both been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular/thromboembolic events (CTEs). However, no studies have assessed both PM 2.5 and corticosteroid use concomitantly, nor has the potential interaction between these two risk factors been examined. Objective To...
Article
Background: Maternal thyroid function plays an important role in foetal brain development; however, little consensus exists regarding the relationship between normal variability in thyroid hormones and common neurodevelopmental disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Objective: We sought to examine the association bet...
Article
Background: Previous studies have linked environmental exposures with anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), a marker of ovarian reserve. However, associations with multiple environment factors has to our knowledge not been addressed. Methods: We included a total of 2,447 premenopausal women in the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII) who provided blood sampl...
Article
Numerous studies have examined the associations between long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM\(_{2.5}\)) and adverse health outcomes. Recently, many of these studies have begun to employ high-resolution predicted PM\(_{2.5}\) concentrations, which are subject to measurement error. Previous approaches for exposure measurement error corre...
Preprint
Full-text available
US Census Bureau (USCB) has implemented a new privacy-preserving disclosure avoidance system (DAS), which includes application of differential privacy (DP), on the public-release 2020 decennial census data. There are increasing concerns among social scientists, epidemiologists, and public health practitioners that DP may bias small-area and demogra...
Preprint
Full-text available
Investigating the health impacts of wildfire smoke requires data on people's exposure to fine particulate matter (PM$_{2.5}$) across space and time. In recent years, it has become common to use statistical models to fill gaps in monitoring data across space and time. However, it remains unclear how well these models are able to capture spikes in PM...
Preprint
Full-text available
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality (AQ) monitors, the gold standard for measuring air pollutants, are sparsely positioned across the US due to their costliness. Low-cost sensors (LCS) are increasingly being used by the public to fill in the gaps in AQ monitoring; however, LCS are not as accurate as EPA monitors. In this work, we inve...
Article
Full-text available
Importance: Tropical cyclones have a devastating effect on society, but a comprehensive assessment of their association with cause-specific mortality over multiple years of study is lacking. Objective: To comprehensively evaluate the association of county-level tropical cyclone exposure and death rates from various causes in the US. Design, set...
Article
Full-text available
Strategic preparedness reduces the adverse health impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms, referred to collectively as tropical cyclones (TCs), but its protective impact could be enhanced by a more comprehensive and rigorous characterization of TC epidemiology. To generate the insights and tools necessary for high-precision TC preparedness, we in...
Preprint
Full-text available
Small area estimates of population are necessary for many epidemiological studies, yet their quality and accuracy are often not assessed. In the United States, small area estimates of population counts are published by the United States Census Bureau (USCB) in the form of the Decennial census counts, Intercensal population projections (PEP), and Am...
Article
Health inequities are assessed by health departments to identify social groups disproportionately burdened by disease and by academic researchers to understand how social, economic, and environmental inequities manifest as health inequities. To characterize inequities, group-specific small-area health data are often modeled using log-linear general...
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Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has induced large-scale behavioral changes, presenting a unique opportunity to study how air pollution is affected by societal shifts. At 455 PM 2.5 monitoring sites across the United States, we conduct a causal inference analysis to determine the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns on PM 2.5 . Our approach allows for rigorous confo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Numerous studies have examined the associations between long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and adverse health outcomes. Recently, many of these studies have begun to employ high-resolution predicted PM2.5 concentrations, which are subject to measurement error. Previous approaches for exposure measurement error correction have eit...
Article
Introduction The health benefits of cycling have widely been recognized, but cycling is also associated with health risks (e.g., pollution exposure, crash risk). Past studies of these competing health impacts have been limited in their treatment of social equity, rarely considering spatial variations in risk that could be highly salient for margin...
Article
Background Solar ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a critical environmental factor for dermal conversion of vitamin D, which is suggested to support reproductive health. However, current epidemiological studies have reported conflicting results on the associations between vitamin D levels and ovarian reserve. Further, few studies have considered UV exp...
Article
Full-text available
Prenatal phthalate exposure has been linked to altered neurobehavioral development in both animal models and epidemiologic studies, but whether or not these associations translate to increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders is unclear. We used a nested case-cohort study design to assess whether maternal urinary concentrations of 12 phthalate...
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Full-text available
Previous studies have suggested noise, especially at night time, and light at night (LAN) could cause neuroendocrine disturbance and circadian disruption, which may lead to ovarian follicle atresia and earlier onset of menopause. However, no study to date has directly investigated the associations of exposure to these factors and menopausal age. M...
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Across the United States public health community in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic and increased concern regarding racial/ethnic health disparities, there is widespread concern about our ability to accurately estimate small-area disease incidence rates due to the absence of a recent census to obtain reliable population denominators. 2010 decennia...
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Background Prenatal phthalate exposure has been linked with altered neurodevelopment, including externalizing behaviors and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the implicated metabolite, neurobehavioral endpoint, and child sex have not always been consistent across studies, possibly due to heterogeneity in neurodevelopmental i...
Preprint
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has induced large-scale social, economic, and behavioral changes, presenting a unique opportunity to study how air pollution is affected by unprecedented societal shifts. At each of 455 PM 2.5 monitoring sites across the United States, we conduct a causal inference analysis to determine the impacts of COVID-19 interventions an...
Article
Full-text available
Hurricanes and other tropical cyclones have devastating effects on society. Previous case studies have quantified their impact on some health outcomes for particular tropical cyclones, but a comprehensive assessment over longer periods is currently missing. Here, we used data on 70 million Medicare hospitalizations and tropical cyclone exposures ov...
Article
Clinical outcomes for the overall severe aortic stenosis (AS) patient population are not well described because those medically managed are not included in procedural registries, and AS severity is not identifiable from administrative data. We aim to assess whether transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) availability has been associated with...
Article
Background Contemporary human populations are exposed to elevated concentrations of organophosphate esters (OPEs) and phthalates. Some metabolites have been linked with altered thyroid function, however, inconsistencies exist across thyroid function biomarkers. Research on OPEs is sparse, particularly during pregnancy, when maintaining normal thyro...
Article
Background Although long-term exposure to particulate matter<2.5 μm (PM2.5) has been linked to chronic debilitating brain disorders (CDBD), the role of short-term exposure in health care demand, and increased susceptibility for PM2.5-related health conditions, among Medicare enrollees with CDBD has received little attention. We used a causal modeli...
Article
Evidence has shown associations between air pollution and traffic-related exposure with accelerated aging, but no study to date has linked the exposure with age at natural menopause, an important indicator of reproductive aging. In this study, we sought to examine the associations of residential exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) and dista...
Article
Objectives. To investigate how census tract (CT) estimates of mortality rates and inequities are affected by (1) differential privacy (DP), whereby the public decennial census (DC) data are injected with statistical “noise” to protect individual privacy, and (2) uncertainty arising from the small number of different persons surveyed each year in a...
Article
Full-text available
Assessing whether long-term exposure to air pollution increases the severity of COVID-19 health outcomes, including death, is an important public health objective. Limitations in COVID-19 data availability and quality remain obstacles to conducting conclusive studies on this topic. At present, publicly available COVID-19 outcome data for representa...
Preprint
Full-text available
Strategic preparedness has been shown to reduce the adverse health impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms, referred to collectively as tropical cyclones (TCs), but its protective impact could be enhanced by a more comprehensive and rigorous characterization of TC epidemiology. To generate the insights and tools necessary for high-precision TC pr...
Article
We develop a causal inference approach to estimate the number of adverse health events that were prevented due to changes in exposure to multiple pollutants attributable to a large-scale air quality intervention/regulation, with a focus on the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA). We introduce a causal estimand called the Total Events Avoided (TEA)...
Article
Often, a community becomes alarmed when high rates of cancer are noticed, and residents suspect that the cancer cases could be caused by a known source of hazard. In response, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that departments of health perform a standardized incidence ratio (SIR) analysis to determine whether the observed...
Preprint
Full-text available
Objectives: United States government scientists estimate that COVID-19 may kill tens of thousands of Americans. Many of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death in those with COVID-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution. We investigated whether long-term average exposure to fine particul...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Human populations, including susceptible subpopulations such as pregnant women and their fetuses, are continuously exposed to phthalates. Phthalates may affect the thyroid hormone system, causing concern for pregnancy health, birth outcomes and child development. Few studies have investigated the joint effect of phthalates on thyroid f...
Preprint
We develop a causal inference approach to estimate the number of adverse health events prevented by large-scale air quality regulations via changes in exposure to multiple pollutants. This approach is motivated by regulations that impact pollution levels in all areas within their purview. We introduce a causal estimand called the Total Events Avoid...
Article
Most causal inference studies rely on the assumption of overlap to estimate population or sample average causal effects. When data suffer from non-overlap, estimation of these estimands requires reliance on model specifications, due to poor data support. All existing methods to address non-overlap, such as trimming or down-weighting data in regions...
Preprint
Often, a community becomes alarmed when high rates of cancer are noticed, and residents suspect that the cancer cases could be caused by a known source of hazard. In response, the CDC recommends that departments of health perform a standardized incidence ratio (SIR) analysis to determine whether the observed cancer incidence is higher than expected...
Preprint
Most causal inference studies rely on the assumption of positivity, or overlap, to identify population or sample average causal effects. When this assumption is violated, these estimands are unidentifiable without some degree of reliance on model specifications, due to poor data support. Existing methods to address non-overlap, such as trimming or...
Article
With the threat of climate change looming, the public health community has an interest in identifying communities at the highest risk of devastation based not only on geographic features but also on social characteristics. Indices of community social vulnerability can be created by applying a spatial factor analysis to a set of relevant social vari...
Article
Objective: To estimate the association between lipoprotein particle concentrations in pregnancy and gestational age at delivery. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: The study was conducted in the United States at the University of North Carolina. Population: We assessed 715 women enrolled in the Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition stu...
Article
Full-text available
Addition of flavors reduces the harsh taste of tobacco, facilitating the initiation and maintenance of addiction among youths. Flavored cigarettes (except menthol) are now banned. However, the legislation on little cigars remains unclear and flavored little cigars are currently available for purchase. Since inhaled tobacco smoke directly exerts tox...
Article
E-cigarettes are generally thought of as a safer smoking alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, little is known about the effects of e-cigarette liquids (e-liquids) on the lung. Since over 7,000 unique flavors have been identified for purchase in the USA, our goal was to conduct a screen that would test whether different flavored e-liquids...
Article
The purpose of this study was to reduce the dimensionality of a set of neighborhood-level variables collected on participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) while appropriately accounting for the spatial structure of the data. A common spatial factor analysis model in the Bayesian setting was utilized in order to properly chara...

Citations

... In particular, there is growing interest in using LCS in mobile monitoring applications to capture the granular spatial variations in pollution in cities at a relatively low-cost. However, the measurements from LCS are error-prone and need to be corrected prior to data interpretation [17][18][19][20] . ...
... Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ; mass concentration of particles having an aerodynamic diameter of ≤2.5 μm) is a major environmental health risk in cities around the world [1][2][3][4][5][6] . Air quality monitoring is critical for developing effective pollution management plans; however, reference air quality monitors have high capital and operating costs. ...
... As a result, retrospective cohort designs using observational data have been increasingly used as a tool to bridge the knowledge gap. Powerful causal methodological designs (e.g., use of propensity score matching or inverse probability weighting, or quasi-experimental designs, such as differences-in-differences) that limit the effect of unobserved confounding work have been increasingly used in the fields of hurricane and other extreme weather event research to address the limitations of external validity inherent in longitudinal observational studies [36]. ...
... This and other related indices are very useful for consolidating expert knowledge into concise data metrics. A comparatively small amount of work has focused on quantitative assessments of (usually economy-related and/or spatially localized) vulnerability and resilience by measuring these quantities using data collected before, during, and after an observed disaster [9][10][11]. These analyses can provide valuable insight into observed rather than hypothetical disaster response, which can help reveal gaps in our current understanding about vulnerability and resilience. ...
... Air pollution has a detrimental effect on human health, the climate, and sustainable development (Guo et al., 2021). Research studies have proven that exposure to the fine particulate matter (PM), especially PM2.5 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameters below 2.5 µm), may cause significant harmful health effects, including cardiovascular, respiratory, diabetes, kidney disease mortality, and morbidity (Bowe et al., 2021;Chen et al., 2021) that lead to millions of premature deaths across the world every year (Karaer et al., 2020). The WHO estimates that 4.2 million people die each year due to exposure to air pollution (Archer et al., 2020;WHO, 2020). ...
... For distance traveled by bicycle, we allocated estimates of total miles traveled by bicycle in LA from the 2012 California Household Travel Survey (CHTS) to block groups based on an index of relative cycling exposure; we generated this index using a random forest model that was trained on bicycle intersection counts and that predicted cycling volumes based on population density and street network characteristics (further details in Appendix A of Braun et al. (2021)). For distance traveled by vehicle, we used estimates from the Southern California Association of Governments regional travel demand model. ...
... In humans, perturbation of hormonal levels during pregnancy (Miranda and Sousa, 2018;Davis and Sandman, 2010) and in utero EDCs has been associated with behavioral alteration and cognitive impairment later in life exposure (Erhardt et al., 2006;Day et al., 2021). The observed effects were often sex-specific, indicating a different susceptibility between males and females (Lim et al., 2017;Kamai et al., 2021;Philippat et al., 2018). ...
... In many developing countries, due to the high cost of abatement devices/treatments that capture the pollutants such as dioxins and PTEs after the burning of the waste, the medical waste is openly burnt or incinerated without safety control devices, which results in toxic air pollution (Vilella, 2012). Many studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic found that poor air quality is possibly correlated to a higher fatality rate ranging from 8% to 21.4% in the U.S. and the Netherlands (Wu et al., 2020). ...
... Environmental epidemiologists always strive for accurate exposure assessment. When considering spatially modeled exposures, such as air pollution, 1 green space, 2 noise, 3 or the built environment, 4 researchers often use participants' residential address to assign exposures. However, residence-based exposure estimates contain error because no one spends 100% of their time at home (COVID-19 lockdowns notwithstanding). ...
... However, even the original DC population counts are known to exhibit systematic biases, with a particular tendency to under-represent non-white individuals, which is particularly troublesome for health inequity studies [38]. In spite of these limitations, DC denominators are commonly used as a "gold standard" for comparison purposes when evaluating alternative denominator data sources [23,39]. ...