Thurston Lab


George Thurston, Sc.D.

Professor, Department of Environmental Medicine

Contact Info:

Address: 341 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010
Phone: 646-754-9454



Key Interests

air pollution, particulate matter, asthma, ozone, respiratory and cardiovascular health

Biographic Details:

Graduate Education: 1976-1982 — Sc.D. from Harvard University School of Public Health

Postdoctoral Training: 1982-1984 — Research Fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government's Energy and Environmental Policy Center

Academic Appointments:

1984-1987: Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY
1987-1993: Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY
1993-2007: Associate Professor (Tenured), Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY
2007-present: Affiliated Faculty, Environmental Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences, NYU, New York City, NY.
2007-present: Full Professor (Tenured), Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY

Major Responsibilities:

1995-2004: Director, Community Outreach and Education Program, NIEHS Center of Excellence, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY
2002-2007: Deputy Director, NYU Particulate Matter Center, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY 
2007-2008: Environmental Epidemiology Core Director, NYU-NIEHS Center of Excellence, Department of Environmental Medicine, Tuxedo, NY 
2010-present: Co-Leader, Metals Research Focus Group, NYU-NIEHS Center of Excellence, Department of Environmental Medicine, Tuxedo, NY 
2012-present: Director, Program in Exposure Assessment and Health Effects, Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine

Major Honors: Haagen-Smit Prize in Recognition of Outstanding Publication in Atmospheric Environment

Research Interests:

In Dr. Thurston's lab, we have identified associations between ambient air pollution and adverse human health effects. In our analyses, we considered cohorts of individual subjects and their responses to ambient pollution, as well as citywide and nationwide population health characteristics and their aggregate associations with air pollution. Our studies have included both healthy and asthmatic children at summer camps in the northeastern United States, as these children are often outdoors and active during summer air-pollution episodes. Our studies of aggregate populations considered both human mortality, i.e., numbers of deaths per day by cause, and morbidity, e.g., numbers of hospital admissions per day for respiratory causes. We have found that air pollution produces consistent adverse health consequences across the various populations and locations we have researched. For example, on a high-ozone, air-pollution day, New York City hospital admissions for respiratory causes rise approximately 20% above otherwise expected figures. In the aftermath of 9/11, we also monitored the air pollution levels at the NYU Downtown Hospital near Ground Zero until the fires were extinguished, and have communicated this information at public forums we held in Lower Manhattan.

Dr. Thurston was the Principal Investigator of an NIH R01 grant that analyzed the nationwide American Cancer Society (ACS) CP-II cohort for the mortality effects of particulate matter (PM) air pollution. The resulting JAMA publication (Pope et al, 2002) is widely referenced in policy analyses for the assessment of the human health impacts of particulate matter air pollution. Today, Dr. Thurston is now following up on this past analysis via an NIH R01 to similarly analyze the large nationwide NIH-AARP cohort in order to assess the human mortality effects of PM air pollution and its various chemical constituents. He also recently contributed to the World Health Organization's Global Burden of Disease project for the assessment of the global mortality and disability-life-years lost from air pollution exposure, which was published in the journal Lancet in December 2012.

Selected Publications:

Exposure assessment for estimation of the global burden of disease attributable to outdoor air pollution. Brauer, Michael; Amann, Markus; Burnett, Rick T; Cohen, Aaron; Dentener, Frank; Ezzati, Majid; Henderson, Sarah B; Krzyzanowski, Michal; Martin, Randall V; Van Dingenen, Rita; van Donkelaar, Aaron; Thurston, George D. 2012 Jan;46(2):652-660, Environmental science & technology. — id: 157663, year: 2012, vol: 46, page: 652, stat: Journal Article,

Fine particulate matter constituents associated with cardiovascular hospitalizations and mortality in new york city. Ito, Kazuhiko; Mathes, Robert; Ross, Zev; Nadas, Arthur; Thurston, George; Matte, Thomas. 2011 Apr;119(4):467-473, Environmental health perspectives. — id: 130310, year: 2011, vol: 119, page: 467, stat: Journal Article,

Distributed lag analyses of daily hospital admissions and source-apportioned fine particle air pollution. Lall, Ramona; Ito, Kazuhiko; Thurston, George D. 2011 Apr;119(4):455-460, Environmental health perspectives. — id: 130293, year: 2011, vol: 119, page: 455, stat: Journal Article,

Personal Exposures to Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Acute Respiratory Health Among Bronx School Children with Asthma. Spira-Cohen A; Chen LC; Kendall M; Lall R; Thurston GD. 2011 Apr;119(4):559-565, Environmental health perspectives. — id: 121313, year: 2011, vol: 119, page: 559, stat: Journal Article,

A source apportionment of U.S. fine particulate matter air pollution
. Thurston G.D.; Ito K.; Lall R.
2011 ;45(24):3924-3936, Atmospheric environment (Oxford). — id: 134929, year: 2011, vol: 45, page: 3924, stat: Journal Article,

Time-series analysis of mortality effects of fine particulate matter components in Detroit and Seattle. Zhou, Jiang; Ito, Kazuhiko; Lall, Ramona; Lippmann, Morton; Thurston, George. 2011 Apr;119(4):461-466, Environmental health perspectives. — id: 138318, year: 2011, vol: 119, page: 461, stat: Journal Article,

See All Publications

Lab Members:

Lital Yinon, PhD Candidate
Chris Lim, PhD Candidate
Lan Jin, MS Candidate
Ruzmyn Vilcassim, MS Candidate