- Earth Sciences
During her graduate studies, Asrah Heintzelman worked in a team to examine childhood obesity in Marion County, Indiana. She also worked towards understanding the health of Marion County by identifying “Healthy Clusters” regions, which are where after incorporating fast food outlets, individuals still had high access to supermarkets.
After her masters, Heintzelman worked with an affordable housing developer in Indianapolis as a GIS Analyst. Some of her responsibilities included identifying and mapping potential project sites based on existing projects, census data, and assisting in providing the documentation needed for application submissions.
The small number of air quality monitoring stations over large US cities, such as Indianapolis, lead to significant limitations in linking local ground-level air quality with disease and limits the ability to identify and control hazardous emission sources via source mitigation and/or green infrastructure options. To address this issue, Heintzelman is helping establish a baseline air quality network utilizing citizen-scientists and multiple sensor types for the Pleasant Run Environmental Analysis Network (PREAN) in the Pleasant Run airshed in Indianapolis, Indiana. Given multiple industrial sources, a large proportion of impervious surface area, and its proximity to a network of major highways, Pleasant Run is subjected to significant pollution sources via air, water, and soil. Studies show a direct linkage between particulate matter and other aerosols with adverse health effects like respiratory diseases, cardiopulmonary diseases, cancer, and premature mortality.
Heintzelman helped deploy 32 active (Purple Air) and passive (Ogawa) sensors involving citizen-science hosting of the monitors. Active sensors report live measurements of particulate matter, humidity, and temperature from each site on a crowdsourced online map while passive sensors measure NOx, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and sulfur dioxide.
The initial results give a glimpse into the fine-scale measurements in the airshed while working towards incorporating satellite data and health variables to holistically examine the state of Indiana and find correlations and/or causality of health impacts.