Children’s microclimates and health: Mitigating heat & air pollution through measurement & design

October 16, 2019 |
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Children’s microclimates and health: Mitigating heat & air pollution through measurement & design

30 October 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Presenter:  Dr. Jennifer Vanos (School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning Arizona State University)

The human body deals with a range of atmospheric stressors that are exacerbated in urban areas, including extreme heat and air pollution. Children gain a large percentage of their activity at school or within playgrounds, and in general, spend more time outdoors than adults often at times of peak heat and air pollution. A range of health ailments may arise from overexposures to these ambient factors, from heat-related illness and asthma, to less severe outcomes such as lethargy, headaches, rashes, cramps, poor behavior, dehydration, and exhaustion, which may negatively affect learning. Monitoring localized exposures within outdoor playspaces, or the use of passive design for exposure reduction, has received little attention in the design and siting of playgrounds.

Vanos will present past and current research and community-based efforts focused on concurrent health and environmental measurements at the urban microscale in the Phoenix, Arizona region––the fastest-growing yet hottest region of the United States. These data are vital to generate the evidence base needed to promote healthy space design and decrease localized exposures through passive air pollution mitigation and cooling. She will further demonstrate how play is shortened or decreased when a space is perceived as uncomfortable or too hot by a child, and how bioclimatic design and radiation exposure connect to physical activity and skin health. Throughout the talk, Vanos will demonstrate applications of novel technologies to better assess ambient exposures and health risks in ambulatory settings, and how she has leveraged such data to create formal environmental safety guidelines and thermal comfort playground standards with the National Program for Playground Safety and Health Canada, respectively.

Brief Biography:

Jennifer Vanos holds an interdisciplinary faculty appointment spanning environmental and human health within the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU). Her research within human biometeorology centers around extreme heat, air pollution, and solar radiation exposures as they relate to human health in areas, with a focus on children’s exposures. Vanos utilizes both empirical measurement and modeling of atmospheric and health parameters to understand links between the ambient environment, bioclimatic design, and human well-being. Vanos is an active member of the Urban Climate Research Center at ASU and a Scientific Advisor for the Korey Stringer Institute and the National Program for Playground Safety.  Prior to ASU, Vanos was an assistant professor at the University of California San Diego and Texas Tech University. She completed her Postdoctoral training at Health Canada and received her Ph.D. from the University of Guelph in Canada.


Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)
4th Floor, Matthews Building, UNSW
Kensington, NSW 2052 Australia
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