30 November 2018

Cleaner Air, Healthier Life

Project Name: Modelling and Visualisation of Air Pollution and It’s Impact on Health

Project Leader: Dr. Thulasyammal Ramiah Pillai

Project Duration: 3 years (2017-2020)



Rapid development is inevitable in modern life. However, one major health problem that arises from this development is the increase in air pollution. Studies have shown that air pollution is associated with respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Cardiovascular and respiratory diseases are among the top causes requiring hospitalization and resulting in deaths based on the data of Ministry of Health in Malaysia (Manan, 2016). Hence, there is a need to study the effects of air pollution on human health in Malaysia.

Dr. Thulasyammal found out that similar projects had been conducted extensively in Europe, USA and China. However, no similar projects had been implemented in Malaysia. Hence, this has motivated her to look further into the need and necessity of this study. Using the projects such as TRANSPHORM, CityZen and ESCAPE, which had been successfully completed in Europe had become the basis and road map for Dr. Thulasyammal to adopt the similarities and embark on this (3) three year project to create public awareness on the importance of understanding the impacts of air pollution on human health. 

Leading the team for the project Modelling and Visualisation of Air Pollution and its Impact on Health is Dr. Thulasyammal Ramiah Pillai from the School of Computing, Faculty of Innovation and Technology. This project is parked under the Data Analytics, Modelling & Visualisation Flagship Research Programme. Her team of 12 includes co-researchers from Taylor’s University, Institute for Medical Research, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, University Malaya Specialist Centre and Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. 

Dr. Thulasyammal Ramiah Pillai
Dr. Thulasyammal Ramiah Pillai and team

This is a multi-disciplinary project aimed to develop an advanced methodology for the assessment of population exposure to air pollution using a hybrid spatial model, which consists of Land Use Regression (LUR) model, dispersion model and spatial GARMA model. Besides that, Dr. Thulasyammal and her team wish to validate the hybrid spatial model by comparing the predicted levels of the modelled pollutant to sampled levels at sites not included in the prediction model. Besides that, the teams want to quantify the effects of air pollutants on cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and all-cause mortality using the hybrid spatial model and regression model.

This study is divided into three main segments namely air pollution, hybrid spatial models and health hazards. With this project, it will help to identify the air pollution level in Malaysia as well as its health impacts apart from high impact on the climate change. Moreover, the extension of this project is to include the air pollution due to traffic and its health impacts on the society. Dr. Thulasyammal has high expectations from this project and furthermore the society will have an awareness about the implication and dangers of air pollution to their health. The air we breathe in is something we usually take for granted, however the impact it can have on our health in the long run can be severe.

Currently the team is collecting data namely air pollution data, land use data and health data. From this project, the researchers will be able to create an estimation on monetary and years of life loss due to air pollutions. Through these data, the researchers will build a hybrid model to estimate the population exposure to air pollutants and subsequently quantify the health impacts. These model aid policy makers in taking the necessary actions to reduce air pollution hazards. The project will bring changes to the outlook or how Malaysians perceive air pollution impacts.

RMS Expert Link:

For more information on the flagship programme – Data Analytics, Modelling & Visualisation, click here.

Dr. Thulasyammal Ramiah Pillai and team
Dr. Thulasyammal Ramiah Pillai
Senior Lecturer, School of Computing & IT, Faculty of Innovation & Technology