We are on a journey to discover the extent to which the > 80,000 human-created chemicals in our air, water, food, and homes may be causing inadvertent harm to our bodies during development. As an environmental epidemiologist, I contribute sound estimates of links between chemical exposures in pregnancy and infancy and health conditions like autism and preterm birth. With this knowledge, we can create the policies and control technologies to support optimal health – of body and mind. I have lived in the decades following the birth of the U.S. EPA and the Clean Air Act, which have done so much to protect our environment and our health. Working together, we can do even better.
Dr. Kalkbrenner uses epidemiologic methods to study how exposures to environmental pollutants during pregnancy cause poor birth outcomes (such as preterm birth) or neurodevelopmental disorders (like autism). She especially focuses on airborne exposures, such as traffic-related pollutants like fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the hundreds of airborne metals and volatile organic compounds known as air toxics or hazardous air pollutants, and tobacco smoke. Dr. Kalkbrenner received her MPH from the University of California, Berkeley, her PhD in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina, and now serves as Associate Professor at the Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.