Science & Tech

Professor honored for ongoing environmental research

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Spengler gets Heinz Award for Environmental Research

Harvard Professor Jack Spengler and MIT professor Mario Molina shared the $250,000 Heinz award, which recognized the independent bodies of work by Spengler and Molina, although coincidentally the researchers are collaborating on air quality studies in Mexico City. Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, was recognized for his research as well as his advocacy efforts. “Dr. Spengler is a true scientific explorer, having charted, virtually by himself, an undiscovered environmental scourge — indoor air pollution,” said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation. “He has succeeded in focusing the nation’s attention on a new insidious, invisible threat, one that had been silently and adversely affecting the nation’s health. The technology that scientists rely on today for critical air pollution measurements would not have been possible without Dr. Spengler’s pioneering work.” Spengler is currently helping to lead the Healthy Public Housing Initiative, an endeavor to respond to high levels of asthma in low-income communities in Boston. He was co-editor of the Indoor Air Quality Handbook. Earlier in his career, he was a researcher with the groundbreaking Six Cities Studies, which explored the environmental risks associated with sulfur dioxide and particle emissions from coal-burning power plants. The studies found a lethal relationship between particulate matter and cardiovascular mortality.