Raphael E. Arku

Assistant Professor
171A Goessmann


B.S., University of Ghana, 2003; M.Phil., University of Ghana, 2007; M.S., Cyprus International Institute for Environmental and Public Health (Harvard-Cyprus Program), 2009; Sc.D., Harvard University, 2015; Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of British Columbia, 2015-2017

Area(s) of Specialization: 

Air Pollution, Environmental Exposure Assessment, Global Environmental Health; Health Inequalities, Spatial Epidemiology, Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Research Description: 

Some of the major themes that characterize the relationship between the environment and population health in the developing world today include poverty, unsafe water and sanitation, lack of access to clean cooking fuel, and high levels of air pollution in cities. My research interests integrate these themes in the context of urbanization, epidemiological transition, and climate change. Specifically, my research focuses on how these features of the social and physical environment influence environmental exposures and health in resource-poor settings. We collect and analyze primary field data.  Also, we use analytical models to combine primary and secondary data to estimate health impacts of exposure to risk factors and their interventions at the population level.

Current Research/Research Groups

Internationally, I am currently leading the Ghana component of a multi-investigator, multi-country project titled “Pathways to equitable healthy cities,” which aims to understand how actions related to water, sanitation, housing, transportation, and urban services affect health and health inequalities in cities in six countries.  

Locally in the US, with support from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health JPB Environmental Health Fellowship Program, I am partnering with colleagues from the Baystate Health and Baystate Medical Center to understand how factors in the living environment may influence Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation and readmissions among communities in Western Massachusetts that are differentially affected by high rates of COPD readmissions.

Key Publications: 

Arku RE, Majid Ezzati, Baumgartner J, Fink G, Bin Zhou, Hystad P, Brauer M. Elevated blood pressure and household solid fuel use in premenopausal women: Analysis of 12 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 10 countries. Environmental Research 2017; 160:499–505. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29107891

Arku RE, Bennett JE, Castro MC, Agyeman-Duah K, Mintah SE, Ware JH, Nyarko P, Spengler JD, Agyei-Mensah S, Ezzati M. Geographical inequalities and social and environmental risk factors for under-five mortality in Ghana in 2000 and 2010: Bayesian spatial analysis of census data. Plos Medicine 2016; 13(6): e1002038. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915620

Arku RE, Adamkiewicz G, Vallarino J, Spengler JD, Levy DE. Seasonal variability in environmental tobacco smoke exposure in public housing developments. Indoor Air 2015; 25(1):13-20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24750252

Arku RE, Dionisio KL, Hughes AF, Spengler JD, Agyei-Mensah S, Ezzati M. Personal particulate matter exposures and locations of students in four neighborhoods in Accra, Ghana. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 2014; 25:557-566. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25160763

Dionisio KL, Arku RE, Hughes AF, Vallarino J, Carmichael H, Friedman AB, Agyei-Mensah S, Spengler JD, Ezzati M. Air pollution in Accra neighborhoods: spatial, socioeconomic, and temporal patterns. Environmental Science and Technology 2010; 44:2270-2276. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20205383