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Spotlight on Student Research: Michael Petroni

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Cariann Linehan
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Graduate Program in Environmental Science
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Michael Petroni

GPES PhD student Michael Petroni is the lead author on a September 2020 publication examining the links between chronic exposure to hazardous air pollutants (HAPS), such as formaldehyde and chromium, and COVID-19 mortality rates. HAPS are regulated by the Clean Air Act and known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health problems. Analyzing county-level data, results from the study indicate that on average U.S. counties with the highest HAPS levels are experiencing double the COVID-19 mortality rate compared to counties with the lowest HAPS levels.

Michael Petroni

Interestingly, counties with high mortality were not just highly populated urban areas, but also semi-rural southern states. The study identified relationships between specific HABS concentrations and expected additional COVID-19 death rates. Ongoing work is hoping to probe deeper into the links between HAPS and COVID-19 mortality. The study involved SUNY ESF faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and is another example of the great work GPES graduate students are doing to improve our world.