Past Conferences

International Society for Environmental Epidemiology 14th Annual Conference

The School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene at The University of British Columbia (UBC) hosted the 14th Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology in Vancouver, Canada, August 11- 15, 2002. Co-chaired by Drs. Michael Brauer and Susan Kennedy, the conference was jointly held with the 12th Annual Conference of the International Society of Exposure Analysis. The theme of the conference was "Linking Exposures and Health: Innovations and Interactions." Major conference sponsors were Health Canada, Environment Canada, the Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The meeting attracted 893 registrants, of whom 134 were students. Grants and other forms of sponsorship supported 62 travel awards, 52 of which were for the attendance of students and scientists from developing countries. Sponsors also paid the registration fee for 69 scientists from around the world. Attendance was diverse, with 44 countries represented, including USA (496), Canada (118), United Kingdom (32), Germany (29), Taiwan (23), The Netherlands (23), Korea (19), Australia (14), Mexico (13), Switzerland (10), Sweden (9), France (9), Japan (7), Italy (7), Israel (6), Finland (6), Brazil (6), Czech Republic (6), Denmark (6), Romania (6), Spain (6), India (4), Slovak Republic (4), Hungary (3), and smaller numbers of delegates from 20 other countries.

The conference program began with an opening plenary session on Sunday evening with a keynote address by Dr. Mark Winston of Simon Fraser University. "Nature Wars: People vs Pests" used the issues of pesticides and genetically modified organisms to discuss the role of science in public policy debates.

On Wednesday, the third ISEE John Goldsmith Award was granted to Dr. Raymond Neutra of the California Department of Health Services, who presented the Goldsmith lecture: "What the Public Taught Me About Applying Environmental Epidemiology to Public Health Policy". The ISEA Jerome J. Wesolowski Award was presented to Dr. Demetrios Moschandreas. Student awards from ISEE were given to Nuria Ribas-Fito and Ramaswami Padmavathi and the young investigator awards to Dr. Kirsi Timonen and Mathias Stielzl. The ISEA Joan Daisey OutstandingYoung Scientist Award was presented to David MacIntosh.

A major highlight of the conference was Thursday's plenary session on the 50th anniversary of the London Fog of 1952. The session began with a video presentation of excerpts from a UK Channel 4 television documentary, 'Killer Fog' including witness accounts and archival footage of the air pollution episode. Dr. David Bates, Professor Emeritus at The University of British Columbia, then provided a stirring account of his personal experiences during the 1952 episode and discussed the implications of this event for air quality regulations and management and towards air pollution epidemiology. Following Dr. Bates' presentation, Dr. Doug Dockery described the contributions of David Bates to our understanding of the health impacts of air pollution. The session ended with a standing ovation for Dr. Bates.

The ISEE 2002 meeting included three-and-a-half full days of technical sessions including 32 symposia, 4 oral sessions, 18 poster-discussion sessions and 7 thematic poster sessions. 994 abstracts were published in the July 2002 issue of Epidemiology (Vol.13, No. 4). This conference introduced a new session format for ISEA/ISEE conferences – the poster discussion session.

The scientific program focused on various topics: for example, of the abstracts about 11% were indexed to exposure and health effects of ambient air pollution/particles/traffic; 6.8% to children's health, 6% to drinking water/chlorination/disinfection byproducts, 5.0% to occupational exposure, 3.4% to indoor air pollution, 4.9% to pesticides, 4.0% to epidemiological and statistical methods, 2.8% to health impact assessment/risk communication, 2.5% to allergy/immune system, and 1.7% to climate change. Miscellaneous presentations addressed epidemiology of medically unexplained symptoms attributed to the environment, disasters, emerging environmental threats, women's health, sustainable development, the interface between occupational and environmental health, the World Trade Center disaster, and risk communication.

Prior to the conference opening, three technical workshops were held: Environmental Agents and Human Reproduction: Overcoming Methodologic Challenges; Probabilistic Multimedia Chemical-Fate, Exposure, and Risk Assessment using CalTOX; and International Air Pollution and Energy/Climate Policy Collaboration - An Update.

The congress social program included a boat cruise to scenic Indian Arm to enjoy the beautiful British Columbia scenery, the Salmon Barbeque at the Museum of Anthropology, a performance by the Tsinshian First Nations drummers and dancers, which involved audience participation, and guided tours of the museum's exhibits. In addition, a special student mixer was organized by the UBC School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene for all student attendees. Overjoyed greetings from the meeting have reached those who could not attend.

We are next year welcomed to the 15th conference of ISEE, which will be held in Perth, Australia, September 24-26, 2003.

Submitted by Helena Mussalo-Rauhamaa, PhD, MD, based on a report by Michael Brauer, PhD

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