Tony Ward is an Associate Professor at The University of Montana’s, Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS). He has both a B.S. (Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas) and M.S. (The University of Houston – Clear Lake, Houston, Texas) in Environmental Science, and received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from The University of Montana in 2001. Dr. Ward also worked for several years as an environmental consultant in the Houston and Seattle areas specializing in air quality issues. In addition to conducting research within CEHS, he is a core faculty member in The University of Montana’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences, and is an adjunct faculty with The University of Montana’s Department of Chemistry.
Research in the Ward lab focuses on assessing those indoor and ambient exposures (including emissions from woodstoves and smoke from forest fires) common to residents of rural northern Rocky Mountain valley communities. In addition to the Air Toxics Under the Big Sky education / outreach program, another focus of our research is understanding the potential for exposure when disturbing asbestos contaminated trees in Libby, Montana.
Specific Research Areas
Indoor woodsmoke PM and asthma: a randomized trial. NIEHS, 1R01ES016336-01.
In collaboration with co-PI Dr. Curtis Noonan, this study focuses on indoor air quality and clinically relevant changes in health effects among asthmatics living in homes whose primary heating sources are non EPA-certified woodstoves. The Primary Aim of this study is to assess the efficacy of residential interventions to reduce indoor PM2.5 exposure from woodstoves and the corresponding improvements in quality of life and health outcomes for asthmatic children. The study areas for this project include rural communities in western Montana, Idaho (Nez Perce Reservation), and Fairbanks, Alaska. This study uses a three arm (Tx1, Tx2, and Tx3) randomized placebo-controlled intervention trial. The interventions are at the household level, and exposure and outcomes are assessed for one asthmatic child in each household. Households in Tx1 receive inactive air filtration units and serve as the placebo group. Households in Tx2 receive a new EPA-certified woodstove, while households in Tx3 receive active air filtration units. The Secondary Aims of this study are to assess the impact of these interventions on residential PM2.5 exposures and other health outcomes. Secondary exposure outcomes measured prior to and following the intervention include PM2.5, particle counts in five separate size fractions, PM2.5-10, and endotoxin. Secondary asthma-related health outcomes measured prior to and following the intervention include peak expiratory flow (PEF) and forced expiratory volume in first second (FEV1), biomarkers in exhaled breath condensate, and frequency of asthma symptoms, medication usage, and healthcare utilization. The results from this project will be translatable to other regions in the US and the world where biomass burning is commonly used for heating and cooking.
Training rural/underserved youth to understand and pursue scientific careers. NIH Science Education Partnership Award, R25OD010511-01A1.
Students living in rural and frontier areas are oftentimes at a disadvantage, in that they do not always have easy access to hands-on educational programs that might stimulate their interest in the sciences. Together with co-PI Dr. Andrij Holian, our inquiry-based science education program trains students in the scientific process based on real-world air pollution issues, giving them the tools necessary to conduct hands-on research. Based on our successful “Air Toxics Under the Big Sky” program, one of four sub-projects in our original SEPA, we have developed the Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program (CAHHP). Through three Aims, we are testing the overall hypothesis that CAHHP can be used in rural, underserved areas to effectively educate students in the scientific process, raise their interest in science and science careers, and increase their awareness of environmental impacts on human health. We are testing this hypothesis with the following Aims: 1) Develop an inquiry-based, student directed, learner centered program (CAHHP) that will allow students to test relevant real-world questions in science; 2) Implement CAAHP into rural, underserved areas of Montana, Idaho, and Alaska in collaboration with our regional partners; and 3) Establish a professional development program for teachers interested in environmental health sciences. Our over-arching goal is to provide educational opportunities to nearly 4,300 students from 51 schools located within rural and underserved areas of the northern Rocky Mountains, and within remote Alaska Native Villages.
Outreach, Education, and Air Pollution Research Capacity Building in Rural Alaska Native Villages
The University of Montana was awarded an RC1 grant (1RC1ES018400) by NIEHS under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This project has built environmental public health capacity while addressing air pollution and respiratory health problems within seven communities in Alaska. The project is twofold: Within the schools, the Air Toxics Under the North Star education/outreach program is implemented to teach the students about air quality and respiratory health. Secondly, local health specialists and UM personnel work collaboratively to identify air pollution issues of importance to the residents, and characterize respiratory disease in children within the communities.
Woodstove Changeout Evaluations
We have investigated the change in air quality (indoor and ambient) following a large community-wide woodstove changeout in Libby, Montana. As part of this project, PM2.5 mass and chemical markers of woodsmoke (i.e. levoglucosan, resin acids, and methoxphenols) have been measured throughout the changeout, where ~1200 older model woodstoves have been replaced with cleaner burning devices. A smaller woodstove changeout (16 homes) has been evaluated on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. Funding for these projects was provided by the Health Effects Institute, the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association, and the EPA (Region 10).
PM2.5 Source Apportionment
Using a Chemical Mass Balance (CMB) model, our laboratory has conducted PM2.5 source apportionment projects in several communities to determine the ambient sources of PM2.5. The Ward lab has carried out (or is currently working on) PM2.5 source apportionment projects in several areas within Montana (including Missoula, Hamilton, Belgrade, Butte, Helena, Libby, and Kalispell), Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia (consultant), and Fairbanks, Alaska. Funding has been provided by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and Health Canada (through Dalhousie University).
Air Toxics Under the Big Sky
Beginning in 2003, the Air Toxics Under the Big Sky program is an outreach/education that works with high school students in multiple schools throughout Montana, Idaho, and Alaska. As part of the project, students are educated on the importance of good air quality, and the adverse respiratory health effects resulting from exposure to poor air quality. Using the scientific method, students also collect PM2.5 samples within their homes as part of mini-research projects during the school year. Funding has been provided by NIH (SEPA), 3M, the Toyota USA Foundation, EPA (Region 10), Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Toshiba, and the Alaska Intertribal Council.
Asbestos in Tree Bark Projects
The Ward lab is also investigating the capacity of trees to serve as reservoirs for asbestos fibers, and the implications of disturbing asbestos-contaminated trees. Using tree bark, we have identified new sources of asbestos contamination in areas surrounding the historical Libby vermiculite mine, in transportation corridors emanating from Libby, and in areas surrounding historical vermiculite processing facilities in Washington, California, and Arizona. We have also conducted a firewood harvesting simulation to determine the potential for exposure when harvesting contaminated firewood, and conducted a combustion study to determine the fate of Libby amphibole fibers when combusting contaminated wood during residential home heating.
Asbestos Fiber Elutriation
Using an aqueous elutriation system developed by our collaborator Dr. James Webber (Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health), we can separate the respirable fraction of Libby asbestos fibers from an initial complex mixture containing larger, non-respirable fibers (Libby “6-Mix”). Through this process, respirable fibers are recovered while discarding the larger fibers. These respirable fibers are then used for health studies at the University of Montana.
The particle concentrator located at The University of Montana (from the University of Southern California, Dr. Costas Sioutas) has three parallel sampling lines (concentrators) to simultaneously collect coarse (2.5 – 10 µm), fine (0.18-2.5 µm), and ultrafine (less than 0.18 µm) particles. This air sampler has been used to harvest ambient PM during the winter months in Missoula, urban PM in Houston, Texas, and has also collected woodsmoke PM from woodstove emissions. These particles are recovered and provided to researchers that study the health effects of PM.
Pollen Reporting Station
The Ward lab manages the only certified pollen count station in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Using a Burkard 7 day pollen and spore sampler, sampling is conducted every day from March through October. The counts are reported to the National Allergy Bureau three times per week, and displayed on their website. Results are also provided to local allergists, KPAX (Missoula CBS affiliate), ABC and Fox affiliates, the National Allergy Bureau, Pollen.com, and the Weather Channel for weekly pollen reports. Emily Weiler is the current certified pollen counter for the Missoula station.
Jahn, H.J., Kraemer, A., Chen, X.C., Chan, C.Y., Guenter Engling, G., Ward, T.J., 2013. Ambient and personal PM2.5 exposure assessment in the Chinese Megacity of Guangzhou. Atmospheric Environment, in press.
Ward, T.J., Palmer, C.P., Hooper, K., Bergauff, M., Noonan, C.W., 2013. The impact of a community-wide woodstove changeout intervention on air quality within two schools. Atmospheric Pollution Research 4, 238-244, doi: 10.5094/APR.2013.025.
Ware, D., Lewis, J., Hopkins, S., Boyer, B., Noonan, C., and Ward, T. 2013. Sources and perceptions of indoor and ambient air pollution in rural Alaska. Journal of Community Health, (DOI) 10.1007/s10900-013-9678-9, in press.
McNamara, M.D., Thornburg, J., Semmens, E.O., Ward, T.J., and Noonan, C.W., 2013. Coarse particulate matter and airborne endotoxin within wood stove homes, Indoor Air, in press.
Ward, T.J., 2012. Source apportionment studies focused on wood smoke in the Northern Rockies and Fairbanks, Alaska. Proceedings of the 2012 Air & Waste Management Association’s Aerosol and Atmospheric Optics, Visibility & Air Pollution Conference, Whitefish, MT (extended abstract).
Noonan, C.W. and Ward, T.J., 2012. Asthma randomized trial of indoor wood smoke (ARTIS): Rationale and Methods. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 33, 1080-1087. NIHMSID: 389296.
Noonan, C.W., Navidi, W., Sheppard, L., Palmer, C.P., Bergauff, M., Hooper, K., and Ward, T.J., 2012. Residential indoor PM2.5 in wood stove homes: follow-up of the Libby changeout program. Indoor Air, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2012.00790.x NIHMSID: 380310.
Ward, T.J., Trost, B., Conner, J., Flanagan, J., and Jayanty, R.K.M., 2012 PM2.5 source apportionment in a subarctic airshed - Fairbanks, Alaska. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 12, 536-543.
Ward, T.J., Spear, T.M., Hart, J.F., Webber, J.S., and Elashheb, M.I., 2012. Amphibole asbestos in tree bark – a review of findings for this inhalational exposure source in Libby, Montana. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene, 9: 387–397.
Noonan, C.W., Ward, T.J., Navidi, W., Sheppard, L., 2012. A rural community intervention targeting biomass combustion sources: effects on air quality and reporting of children’s respiratory outcomes. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 69, 354-360; doi:10.1136/oemed-2011-100394.
McNamara, M.L., Semmens, E., Gaskill, S., Palmer, C., Noonan, C., and Ward, T., 2011. Base camp personnel exposure to particulate matter during wildland fire suppression activities. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene, 9: 149-156.
Elashheb, M.I., Spear, T.M., Hart, J.F., Webber, J.S., and Ward, T.J., 2011. Libby amphibole contamination in tree bark surrounding historical vermiculite processing facilities. Journal of Environmental Protection, 2:1062-1068.
Ward, T.J., 2011. Life in academia. Environmental Manager (EM), July 2011.
Ward, T.J., Palmer, C.P., Bergauff, M., Jayanty, R.K.M., Noonan, C.W., 2011. Organic/elemental carbon and woodsmoke tracer concentrations following a community wide woodstove changeout program. Atmospheric Environment, 45, 5554-5560.
Vanek, D., Marra, N., Hester, C., Ware, D. Holian, A., Ward, T., Knuth, R., and Adams, E., 2011. The power of the symposium – impacts from students’ perspectives. The Rural Educator, spring 2011, 20-26.
McNamara, M.L., Noonan, C.W., and Ward, T.J., 2011. Correction factor for continuous monitoring of wood smoke fine particulate matter. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 11(3), 315-322.
Wheeler A.J., Gibson M.D., Ward T., Allen R.W., Guernsey J.R., Seaboyer M., Kutcha J., Gould R. and Stieb, D., 2011. Reductions in residential wood smoke concentrations and infiltration efficiency using electrostatic air cleaner interventions. Indoor Air conference proceedings, Austin, TX. June 5-10, 2011.
Hart, J.F., Ward, T.J., Spear, T.M., Rossi, R., Holland, N., and Loushin, B., 2011. Evaluating the effectiveness of a commercial portable air purifier in homes with wood burning stoves - a preliminary study. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Volume 2011, Article ID 324809, 1-7.
Marra, N., Vanek, D., Hester, C., Holian, A., Ward, T., Adams, E., Knuth, R., 2011. Evolution of the Air Toxics Under the Big Sky program. Journal of Chemical Education, 88(4):397–401.
Ward, T.J., Boulafentis, J., Simpson, J., Hester, C., Moliga, T., Warden, K., and Noonan, C.W., 2011. Results of the Nez Perce woodstove changeout program. Science of the Total Environment, 409, 664-670.
Gibson, M.D., Ward, T.J., Guernsey, J.R., Wheeler, A.J., Seaboyer, M., King, G.H., and Stieb, D.M., 2010. Wood smoke source apportionment and home infiltration study in the Rural Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada. Conference proceedings of the 103rd Air & Waste Management’s Annual Conference & Exhibition, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. June 22-25, 2010.
Ward, T. J., Palmer, C. P., and Noonan, C. W., 2010. PM2.5 source apportionment following a large woodstove changeout program in Libby, Montana. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, 60: 688-693.
Crispen, K. L., Gillespie, D. N., Weiler, E. C., Noonan, C. W., Hamilton, R. F., and Ward, T. J., 2010. A comparison of 1978 and 2006 peak pollen seasons and sampling methods in Missoula, Montana. Grana, 49(2): 128–133.
Ward, T. and Lange T., 2010. The impact of wood smoke on ambient PM2.5 in northern Rocky Mountain valley communities. Environmental Pollution, 158(3):723-9. Epub 2009 Nov 7.
Bergauff, M.A., Ward, T.J., Noonan, C.W., Migliaccio, C.T., Simpson, C.D., Evanoski, A.R., and Palmer, C.P., 2010. Urinary levoglucosan as a biomarker for wood smoke: results of human exposure studies. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, 20(4):385-392. NIHMSID 168348.
Morandi, M., and Ward, T., 2010. Biomass smoke risk assessment: defining the questions. Inhalation Toxicology, 22(2):94-98.
Holian, A., Stock, A., Migliaccio, C., Noonan, C., and Ward, T., 2010. Conference Summary: International Biomass Smoke Health Effects (IBSHE), Inhalation Toxicology, 22(2):91-93.
Ward, T.J., Palmer, C.P., Houck, J.E., Navidi, W.C., Geinitz, S., and Noonan, C.W., 2009. A community woodstove changeout and impact on ambient concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(14), 5345–5350. PMCID: PMC2735050.
Hart, J.F., Spear, T.M., Ward, T.J., Baldwin, C. E., Salo, M.N., and Elashheb, M.I., 2009. An evaluation of the potential exposure to asbestiform amphiboles near a former vermiculite mine. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Article ID 189509, 10 pages. PMCID: PMC2799270.
Ward, T.J., Hamilton, R.F., Underberg, H., Adams, E., and Jones, D., 2009. Indoor/ambient residential air toxics results in western Montana. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 153(1), 119-126. PMCID:PMC2765656.
Bergauff, M.A., Ward, T.J., Noonan, C.W., and Palmer, C.P., 2009. The effect of a woodstove changeout on ambient levels of PM2.5 and chemical tracers for woodsmoke in Libby, Montana. Atmospheric Environment, 43, 2938-2943. PMCID: PMC2735050.
Ward, T.J., Hart, J.F., Spear, T.M., Meyer, B.J., and Webber, J.S., 2009. Fate of Libby amphibole fibers when burning contaminated firewood. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(8) 2878–2883. PMCID: PMC2688714.
Adams, E., Ward, T.J., Vanek, D., Marra, N., Hester, C., Knuth, R., Spangler, T., Jones, D., Henthorn, M., Hammill, B., Smith, P., Salisbury, R., Reckin, G., and Boulafentis, J., 2009. The Big Sky Inside: Measuring rural indoor air quality and its impact on the community. The Science Teacher, April/May, 40-45. NIHMSID: 140777.
Migliaccio, C.T., Bergauff, M., Palmer, C., Jessop, F., Noonan, C., and Ward. T., 2009. Urinary levoglucosan as a biomarker of woodsmoke exposure: observations in a mouse model and in children. Environmental Health and Perspectives, 117(1): 74-79. PMCID: PMC2627869.
Ward, T.J., Palmer, C., Bergauff, M., Hooper, K., and Noonan, C., 2008. Results of a residential indoor PM2.5 sampling program before and after a woodstove changeout. Indoor Air, 18: 408–415.
Ward, T.J., Vanek, D., Marra, N., Holian, A., Adams, E., Jones, D., and Knuth, R., 2008. The Big Sky Model: A regional collaboration for participatory research on environmental health in the rural West. Journal of Higher Education Outreach & Engagement. Vol 12(3): 103-115. NIHMS168296.
Webber, J.S., Blake, D.J., Ward, T.J., and Pfau, J., 2008. Separation and characterization of respirable amphibole fibers from Libby, Montana. Inhalation Toxicology, 20:733-740.
Adams, E, Ward, T., Vanek, D., Marra, N., Noonan, C., Smith, G., Jones, D., Henthorn, M., and Striebel, J. 2008. Air Toxics Under The Big Sky: A real-world investigation to engage high school science students. Journal of Chemical Education, 85(22): 221-224.
Bergauff, M., Ward, T., Noonan, C., and Palmer C.P., 2008. Determination and evaluation of selected organic chemical tracers for wood smoke in airbourne particulate matter. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 88(7): 473-486.
Hart, J.F., Ward, T.J., Spear, T.M., Crispen, K., and Zolnikov, T.R., 2007. Evaluation of asbestos exposures during firewood harvesting simulations in Libby, Montana. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 51, 8: 1-7.
Jones, D., Ward, T., Vanek, D., Marra, N., Noonan, C., Smith, G., Adams, A. 2007. Air Toxics Under The Big Sky -- A high school science teaching tool. Science Education & Civic Engagement: An International Journal 1(2): 51-55.
Noonan, C.W., and Ward, T.J., 2007. Environmental tobacco smoke, woodstove heating and risk of asthma symptoms. Journal of Asthma, 44:735-738.
Ward, T.J., Noonan, C.W., and Hooper, K., 2007. Results of an indoor size fractionated PM school sampling program in Libby, MT. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 130:163-71.
Webber, J.S., Getman, G., and Ward, T.J., 2006. Evidence and reconstruction of airborne asbestos from unconventional environmental samples. Inhalation Toxicology, 18: 969-973.
Ward, T.J., Hamilton, R.F., Dixon, R.W., Paulsen, M., and Simpson, C., 2006. Characterization and evaluation of smoke tracers in PM: results from the 2003 Montana wildfire season. Atmospheric Environment, 40:7005-7017.
Ward, T.J., Spear, T., Hart, J., Noonan, C., Holian, A., Getman, M., and Webber, J.S., 2006. Amphibole fibers in tree bark. Science of the Total Environment, 367:1, 460-465.
Ward, T.J., Rinehart, L.R., and Lange, T., 2006. The 2003/2004 Libby, Montana PM2.5 source apportionment research study. Aerosol Science and Technology, 40: 166-177.
Schumpert J.C., Noonan C.W., Sylvester J., Vanek D., Ward T., and Holian A., 2006. Patterns of asthma symptoms and perceptions of harm from seasonal atmospheric events in rural western Montana. International Journal of Occupational Environmental Health, 12: 52-58.
Ward, T.J., and Lincoln, E., 2006. Concentrations of PM2.5-Associated OC, EC, and PCDD/Fs measured during the 2003 wildfire season in Missoula, Montana. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 115: 39-50.
Ward, T.J., and Smith, G.C., 2005. Vapor-phase and fine particulate matter concentrations of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons measured during the winter months in a northern Rocky Mountain urban airshed. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 55, 1327-1334.
Ward, T.J., Hamilton, R.F., and Smith, G.C., 2005. The Missoula Valley semivolatile and volatile organic compound study – seasonal average concentrations. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 55, 1007-1013.
Ward, T.J., and Smith, G.C., 2005. The 2000/2001 Missoula Valley PM2.5 Chemical Mass Balance study, including the 2000 wildfire season – seasonal source apportionment. Atmospheric Environment, 39, 709-717.
Ward, T.J., Hamilton, R.F., and Smith, G.C., 2004. The Missoula, Montana PM2.5 speciation study – seasonal average concentrations. Atmospheric Environment, 38, 6371-6379.
Ward, T.J. and Smith, G.C., 2004. High volume PUF vs. low volume PUF sampling comparison for collecting gas plus particulate Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Aerosol Science and Technology, 38, 972-979.
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