Expert Panel: Infectious Lung Disease and Air Pollution

Thursday, February 25, 2021

This event has passed. The recording is available here.

Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP) will host a virtual expert panel on infectious lung disease, COVID-19, and air pollution. The event, funded by the Network of the National Library of Medicine, will take place on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 from 7 - 8:30 p.m. It is free to attend and open to all.

Four panelists and one moderator will speak at the event, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with participants. All are welcome. Registration is free.

Dr. Ned Ketyer will moderate the event.

Ned Ketyer, M.D., F.A.A.P.
AHN Pediatrics - Pediatric Alliance
Editor, The PediaBlog
AAP Council on Environmental Health
SWPA Environmental Health Project (consultant)
Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania (board member)
Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps
EKetyer [at] EnvironmentalHealthProject.org

Dr. Ned Ketyer is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area pediatrician. Dr. Ketyer enjoyed 26 years in private practice before retiring from patient care in 2017. He remains a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health and is a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania. Dr. Ketyer is a consultant for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, bringing attention to the health impacts of fracking in the Marcellus Shale gas patch.

Dr. Ketyer’s work connects the rapid expansion of shale gas and petrochemical development in the Ohio River Valley with the local and regional health impacts currently experienced by residents, as well as the global ecologic and public health catastrophes resulting from plastic pollution and climate change that threaten the health and well-being of everyone.

Panelists:

Kevin M. Stewart
Director, Environmental Health
Advocacy and Public Policy
American Lung Association

Kevin Stewart is director of environmental health for advocacy and public policy for the American Lung Association.  Mr. Stewart has served the Lung Association since 1987.

His major responsibilities include:
• Development, promotion, and advocacy of practices, policies, and laws to control air pollution. 
He has given testimony before many local, state and federal legislative and regulatory bodies on matters relating to lung health, and he works to control air pollutants as a member of state and national groups.

• Informing the public about air pollution, its health effects, its sources, and its means of control. 
He addresses issues such as air quality in schools, indoor radon gas and outdoor ozone and fine particle pollution. 

He assists in the creation of the Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report and he serves in grant-funded programs addressing indoor radon.

Mr. Stewart holds a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University. He resides with his family in Lancaster, PA.

Deborah Gentile, MD
Director of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
East Suburban Pediatrics

Medical Director
Community Partners in Asthma Care

Dr. Deborah Gentile is Director of Allergy and Asthma Services at East Suburban Pediatrics and Medical Director at Community Partners in Asthma Care, a non-profit whose mission is to provide specialty allergy and asthma care to underserved communities.  She completed medical school, pediatric residency, and allergy/immunology fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.  She previously worked at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Health Network, and Pediatric Alliance, respectively.  Her recent research efforts have focused on evaluating asthma outcomes and triggers in disparate children from the Pittsburgh Region. Her work identified a strong association between exposure to elevated levels of outdoor air pollution and increased asthma prevalence and poor disease control in these children.  She currently has funding from the Heinz Endowments to support this work. Dr. Gentile has authored more than 60 publications and is the recipient of numerous awards for her research efforts.  She is past president of her local and state allergy societies and is a member of numerous professional organizations.  

Tesfaye Mersha, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Department of Pediatrics
University of Cincinnati

Tesfaye Mersha is an author of "Air Pollution, Racial Disparities, and Covid-19 Mortality," and an associate professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati, where he leads the Population Genetics, Ancestry and Bioinformatics Laboratory. His research combines quantitative, ancestry and statistical genomics to unravel genetic and non-genetic contributions to complex diseases and racial disparities in human populations, particularly asthma and asthma-related allergic disorders.

Mersha is a recognized expert in the field of genetic ancestry, race, ethnicity, admixture mapping and mining functional genomic databases related to complex diseases. Among his significant contributions, his team developed AncestrySNPminer, the first web-based bioinformatics tool to retrieve ancestry-informative markers from the genomic databases. His long-term research goal is to understand and dissect how biologic predisposition and environmental exposures interact to shape racial disparities in complex disorders. Some of his recent work including the link between COVID-19 pandemic, other health conditions, chronic exposure to air pollution.

He has received multiple awards and honors, including a Faculty Research Achievement Award from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and African Professionals Network Business and Professional Achievement Award.

Linda M. Wigington
Team Leader
ROCIS Initiative
Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces

Linda Wigington provides indoor air quality and residential energy consulting services through her firm, Linda Wigington & Associates. She brings 40 years of building performance experience to her role as leader of the Pittsburgh, PA-based ROCIS (Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces) initiative (http://ROCIS.org), funded by The Heinz Endowments. 

Her focus is on low cost monitoring of air quality, and refining interventions that substantially reduce particle counts, whether they are from outdoor or indoor sources. To date, 46 cohorts have engaged 375 people in monitoring particles (0.5+ and 2.5+ um), CO2, CO, and radon in their homes or workplaces for a three-week period.  Over 40 homes have participated in longer term monitoring to gain insight on the impact of filtration strategies, kitchen exhaust hoods, and radon mitigation. 

Linda received her master’s degree from WVU’s Program for the Study of Technology. Her focus of study was community education and residential energy efficiency.