Peltier Appointed to WHO Technical Advisory Group on Global Air Pollution and Health

University of Massachusetts Environmental Health Sciences faculty Richard Peltier

Richard Peltier

September 10, 2021

Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Richard Peltier has been appointed to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Air Pollution and Health Technical Advisory Group (GAPH-TAG).

The team of external experts will advise the WHO secretariat on the organization’s health impact assessment of air pollution as they work to update their Sustainable Development Goals for the United Nations. The advisory group will collect, analyze, and summarize the scientific research on air pollution and health for WHO to provide more informed guidance to member states, many of whom lack national air quality guidelines or standards.

“I’m pleased to play a key role in this process that will lead to more protective global guidelines for air quality and health,” says Peltier, whose two-year appointment began in July 2021. “WHO policies on air quality have to be led by science. The world is constantly changing, with new threats that seem to face us on a daily basis. And this is especially true for degrading worldwide air quality. Only through thoughtful planning and rigorous analysis can be we more prepared to face that future.”

A 2017 Fulbright Scholar, Peltier’s innovative approaches, novel designs and applications of instrumentation to improve our understanding of particulate matter has made him a sought-after scholar throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has spent the past decade building strong international research connections through extensive field work across North and South America, Asia, and Africa, and through his Worldwide Universities Network-funded Air Sensors Everywhere project.

Peltier will provide his expertise to GAPH-TAG’s Expert Working Group on Exposure. The group is charged with reviewing existing national and local strategies and capacities for exposure assessment of ambient and household air pollution that can be used to improve sub-national exposure; providing guidance for exposure modelling work on improving spatial and temporal resolution of global exposure models for ambient and household air pollution; and providing guidance on source-specific exposure assessment for PM2.5 to be used in global, regional and national analysis.

“Human exposure to pollutants is surprisingly complex, where someone’s exposure is a mixture of outdoor pollutants, indoor pollutants, and everything in between,” says Peltier. “It’s not just a matter of measuring pollution from a single monitor – we have to have a detailed understanding of concentrations but also human activity and behavior, susceptibility, and the sources of specific pollutants, some of which are likely more harmful than others. My charge in this appointment is to work towards understanding these complicated factors, and to allow WHO to craft efficient and effective public health policy.”

Peltier views his appointment not only as a chance to give back to the global community, but to serve his local UMass community.

“This a terrific opportunity to bring the process for global decision making in public health back to Amherst,” he says. “We train our students to be global leaders, and this is yet another opportunity to share this experience.”