Hyspiri website
Personal tools
You are here: Home / Applied / Health and Air Quality

Health and Air Quality

"NASA’s Public Health Program focuses on advancing the realization of societal and economic benefits from NASA Earth Science in the areas of infectious disease, emergency preparedness and response, and environmental health (e.g., air quality). The goal of the NASA Public Health Program is to help determine how weather, climate, and other key environmental factors correlate with health, with the overall goal of improving our nation's health and safety"(NASA Public Health Program). One program area in NASA Public Health Applications Program focuses on infectious diseases that have environmental factors that can contribute to their emergence and spread.  These environmental factors lend themselves to monitoring by remote sensing.  Also, global climate change may impact the location and spread of many infectious diseases (Fig.1).

figure 1

Fig.1. The global scope of emerging and re-emerging vector-borne diseases over the past three decades. Red dots represents newly emerging diseases; blue, re-emerging/resurging diseases.


The HyspIRI satellite will provide critical remote sensing data sets to enhance public health decision support systems worldwide with the emerging global disease problems.

Abiotic environmental and biotic factors are important in determining the distribution of disease-causing vectors and their life cycles. (Fig.2)


Fig. 2.  The human host Malaria transmission cycle. (Pan et al 2013, NASA Public Health Review)

The HyspIRI mission will provide hyperspectral visible and multispectral thermal data products enabling structural and functional classification of ecosystems and the measurement of environmental parameters (temperature, soil moisture). The thermal measurements are particularly useful by providing ~ 5 day and day-night pairs of measurements of surface thermal environments.  These observations can be merged through a Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS) and be used to drive spatially explicit ecological models of disease vectors distribution and their life cycles.

The group of neglected tropical diseases is a good example of a critical public health problem according to Holtz et al. 2007a"The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a group of chronic, debilitating, and poverty-promoting parasitic, bacterial, and some viral and fungal infections, are among the most common causes of illness of the poorest people living in developing countries." (Table 1.)

Table 1. The World Health Organization lists 17 neglected tropical diseases*

· Buruli Ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection)

· Chagas disease

· Dengue/Severe dengue

· Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)

· Echinococcosis

· Foodborne trematodiases

· Human African trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness)

· Leishmaniasis

· Leprosy

· Lymphatic filariasis

· Onchocerciasis (River blindness)

· Rabies

· Schistosomiasis

· Soil transmitted helminthiases

· Taeniasis/Cysticercosis

· Trachoma

· Yaws (Endemic treponematoses)


aHotez PJ, Molyneux DH, Fenwick A, Kumaresan J, Ehrlich Sachs S, et al. Control of neglected tropical diseases. New Eng J Med. 2007;357:1018–1027.

The Co-Factors important in determining the distribution of the major NTD’s are closely linked to land use patterns resulting from human activities and alteration of the hydrology through deforestation (Table 2). The alteration of the hydrology may intensify impacts of climate variation and may increase desertification.  These Co-Factors can be monitored using HyspIRI data sets.

Table 2. Major NTD Target Sub-Regions and Unique Ecologies

Description: screenshot_26.jpg

P. J. Hotez, M. E. Bottazzi, C.Franco-Paredes, S. K. Ault, and M. R. Periago. 2008
The Neglected Tropical Diseases of Latin America and the Caribbean: A Review of Disease Burden and Distribution and a Roadmap for Control and Elimination. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2008 September; 2(9): e300.

Other tropical diseases such as Riff Valley Fever (RFV) are significantly impacted with seasonal changes in precipitation patterns (Fig 3.). NASA funded studies using satellite data (MODIS) detected above normal NDVI in southern Africa combined with above normal rainfall indicated an elevated risk for RVF outbreaks (J. Pinzon, SSAI). HyspIRI thermal data would enhance the use of MODIS data by providing much finer resolution thermal data (90m vs. 1km) for monitoring the mosquito vector habitats.

Fig. 3. NDVI anomaly may indicate an increase Rift Valley Fever activity.

figure 4

Exposure of highconcentrations of airborne particular matter, dust, on the human respiratorysystem can have adverse health effects (Cook et al, 2005). Countless studies have been published showing the link between dust inhalation and a variety of respiratory disease. However, the pathogenic role of the microbial and viral component of the dust has not been extensively studied. Leski et al. (2011) conducted testing of dust particles across 19 locations in Iraq and Kuwait and found the presences of potential human pathogens including: Mycobacterium, Brucella, Coxiella burnetii, Clostridium perfringens, and Bacillus. King et al (2011) examined 49 previously healthy soldiers with unexplained exertial dyspnea and diminished exercise tolerance after deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan and found that 38 of them suffered from diffused constrictive bronchiolitis that may have resulted from inhalation exposure Long term exposure to desert dust carrying pathogens may create conditions conductive for novel outbreaks of disease (Griffin and Kellog, 2004).

HyspIRI hyperspectral measurements would provide global measurements of surface mineralogy and biotic crusts important in accessing the impact of dust in human health (Fig. 4 & Fig 5.).

Fig. 4. The various aspects of the human health effects of dust.

Figure 4

Used with permission of Dr. Mark B. Lyles VADM Joel T. Boone Chair Of Health And Security Studies Center For Naval Warfare Studies U.S. Naval War College Newport, Rhode Island Mark.Lyles@usnwc.Edu

Fig. 5. The impact of dust mineralogy on lung function and diseases.

Figure 5

Used with permission of Dr. Mark B. Lyles VADM Joel T. Boone Chair Of Health And Security Studies Center For Naval Warfare Studies U.S. Naval War College Newport, Rhode Island Mark.Lyles@usnwc.Edu

HyspIRI's multispectral thermal channels would provide additional mineralogy identification and would also help identify the variability of dust sources due to surface moisture conditions.  A 5 day repeat and day-night pairs of thermal images would allow the monitoring of surface moisture. A key variable in dust production is the surface wetness and drying areas along the shoreline of retreating water bodies. These biotic crusts are reservoirs of both living/dead cells and spores of bacteria, fungus, and viral communities (fig. 6).  These microbial communities remain viable and are embedded within and on the surface of the dust particles. These bioaerosols are thought to cause respiratory problems and are transported globally.

Fig. 6. Imbedded microbes on a dust particle.

Figure 6

Used with permission of Dr. Mark B. Lyles VADM Joel T. Boone Chair Of Health And Security Studies Center For Naval Warfare Studies U.S. Naval War College Newport, Rhode Island Mark.Lyles@usnwc.Edu

Cook, A. G., P. Weinstein, and J. A. Centeno. 2005. Health effects of natural dust—role of trace elements and compounds. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 103: 1–15.

Griffin, Dale W. and Kellog, Christina A. 2004. Dust Storms and Their Impact on Ocean and Human Health: Dust in Earth’s Atmosphere. EcoHealth 1, 284–295,

Ongoing and future research in this emerging scientific field should provide a better understanding of atmospheric dispersion of pollutants and disease-causing agents, how the dispersion affects ocean and human health, and how we can effectively mediate anthropogenic influences.

King, Matthew S.;  Rosana Eisenberg, John H. Newman, James J. Tolle, Frank E. Harrell, Jr., Hui Nian, Mathew Ninan, Eric S. Lambright, James R. Sheller, Joyce E. Johnson, and Robert F.

Leski, Tomasz A., Anthony P. Malanoski, Michael J. Gregory, Baochuan Lin, and David A. Stenger. 2011. Application of a Broad-Range Resequencing Array for Detection of Pathogens in Desert Dust Samples from Kuwait and Iraq. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, July 2011, Vol. 77, No. 13, p. 4285–4292