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Thomas Robins

Thomas Robins, M.D., M.P.H.

Professor, Environmental Health Sciences

M6007 SPH II      Vcard icon
1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029

Office: (734) 936-0757; Fax: (734) 763-8095

E-mail: trobins@umich.edu

Professional Summary

Thomas G. Robins, (A.B., Harvard, 1972; M.D., Tufts 1979; M.P.H., Univ. of Michigan 1983) has served on the faculty the Department of Environmental Health Sciences since 1984. He is an occupational and environmental physician and epidemiologist. He is the Director of two major training grants: 1) an Education and Research Center funded by the National Institutes of Health to train U.S. occupational health professionals at University of Michigan; 2) a National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center grant to develop human resource capacity in environmental and occupational health in the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community. His research addresses global issues in environmental and occupational health with particular emphasis on respiratory morbidity associated with workplace exposures (coal dust, aerosolized protein, metalworking fluids) and ambient air pollution. Areas of focus include: 1) improvements in the available epidemiologic tools, methods of exposure assessment and measurement of disease outcomes to enhance the reliability of research findings; 2) the application of these research methods to the areas of most critical public health concern; and, 3) effective dissemination of knowledge regarding the causes and methods of prevention of occupational illnesses and injuries to employers and employees who may then modify health-related work practices and working conditions.

Courses Taught

EPID554: Introduction to Globalization and Health    Syllabus (PDF)
PUBHLTH554: Introduction to Globalization and Health
PUBHLTH600: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Public Health Challenges

Education

M.P.H., Occupational Health, University of Michigan, 1983
M.D., Tufts University, 1979
A.B., Philosophy, Harvard University, 1972

Research Interests & Projects

> > Robins Lab - Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology (Leader)

Our research, teaching and service address a wide range of issues in environmental and occupational health, both in Southern Africa and in United States. Most of our research studies involve primary exposure and health status data collection and characterization in large-scale longitudinal field studies. In our approach to research we emphasize community-based participatory methods, capacity strengthening, and environmental justice. Major research areas and topics include ambient and indoor air pollution and aggravation of childhood asthma both in ... More >>

Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology 

> > Batterman Lab - Exposure and Environmental Impact Assessment (Member)

Our teaching and research address a wide range of topics in occupational, indoor and environmental settings. Topics include exposure assessment (especially for particulate matter and volatile organic compounds or VOCs); emerging contaminants in occupational, ecological and environmental settings (e.g., brominated flame retardants); biological monitoring (e.g., blood, breath); air quality monitoring (indoor, outdoor); air pollution control engineering (e.g., vapor and particle air filtration); and environmental epidemiology. Other research activities include characterization of VOCs and SVOCs in air, soils and ... More >>

Exposure and Environmental Impact Assessment 

> > Role of Diesel and Other Vehicular Exhaust in Exacerbation of Childhood Asthma (Principal Investigator)

This project examines the relationship between ambient and indoor exposure to diesel exhaust and other air pollutants and the response of children with asthma living in the Detroit area.... More >>

Role of Diesel and Other Vehicular Exhaust in Exacerbation of Childhood Asthma 

> > International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health (Principal Investigator)

This grant sponsors students, research, training and faculty exchange for personnel in southern African in academic, governmental and labor organizations addressing environmental and industrial health issues... More >>

International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health 

> > Michigan Education and Research Center in Occupational and Environmental Health (Principal Investigator)

This training grant addresses the need for occupational safety and health professionals who specialize in hazardous substances and provides training for students in Industrial Hygiene and Environmental Health Sciences, faculty development and course revision. Prof. Batterman is director of Hazardous Substances Academic Training Program component of ERC Center grant.... More >>

Michigan Education and Research Center in Occupational and Environmental Health  

> > Role of Diesel and Other Vehicular Exhaust in Exacerbation of Childhood Asthma (Principal Investigator)

The burden of childhood asthma disproportionately affects children living in poverty and in urban centers, many of whom are minority ethnic groups. For those living in urban environments with high traffic densities, there is increasing concern about potential adverse respiratory health effects of exposure to diesel and other vehicular exhaust. Epidemiologic studies have shown associations between exposure to high traffic volumes, and especially to high truck traffic -- the main source of diesel exhaust in urban settings -- ... More >>

Role of Diesel and Other Vehicular Exhaust in Exacerbation of Childhood Asthma 

> > The South Durban Health Study (Principal Investigator)

This study is investigating associations between exposures to common ambient air pollutants and respiratory health status (symptom prevalences and pulmonary function measures) in children living in both industrialized and non-industrialized areas of a large metropolitan city in South Africa. The South Durban Industrial Basin is a residential-industrial complex which arose during an era of racist (apartheid) governmental planning. One of the highest concentrations of industrial activity in Africa including two large petroleum refineries, sugar, paper and pulp mills, ... More >>

The South Durban Health Study 

> > The Settlers Primary School Study. (Principal Investigator)

Our group conducted this study, the first ever to investigate associations between exposures to common ambient air pollutants and respiratory health status conducted among children in the South Durban industrial basin. ... More >>

 

> > Occupational Seafood Allergies Among Seafood Processing Workers in South Africa (Principal Investigator)

Work in the seafood industry provides an excellent model for IgE mediated occupational asthma caused by exposure to high molecular weight substances. Our current investigation of occupational allergic conditions among seafood processing workers in the Western Cape of South Africa exposed to both crustaceans and bony fish entails a comprehensive approach including novel exposure characterization methods including personal samples for inhalation of specific seafood proteins, field methacholine challenge testing, and skin, patch, and serum RAST testing.... More >>

Occupational Seafood Allergies Among Seafood Processing Workers in South Africa 

> > Respiratory health effects of metalworking fluids (Principal Investigator)

Metal machining requires lubrication and dispersion of generated heat. Several distinct classes of metalworking fluids are used to accomplish these goals. Exposure these fluids is widespread in the automotive industry. Our study of acute respiratory effects associated with inhalational exposure to metalworking fluid aerosols in an automotive transmission plant resulted in a number of novel findings: large cross shift decrements in FEV1 and FVC were seen in those with exposure but not in unexposed controls, significant associations ... More >>

Respiratory health effects of metalworking fluids 

> > Respiratory diseases of coal miners (Principal Investigator)

The effects of coal dust exposure on the respiratory tract are complex. Long term work as a coal miner at relatively high exposures has been associated with the risk for pneumoconiotic X ray changes which may be accompanied by a restrictive pattern of pulmonary function. In addition, at perhaps lower exposures, coal mining is associated with chronic bronchitis and obstructive PFT changes. We conducted the first-ever epidemiologic study of the respiratory health of coal miners in South Africa. Because ... More >>

Respiratory diseases of coal miners 

> > Respiratory diseases among Zambian copper miners (Principal Investigator)

Copper and most other metal ores are frequently found in association with high concentrations of crystalline silica. Respiratory diseases associated with silica exposures may include silicosis, silico-tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Our group is investigating associations, among a cohort of active and retired copper miners, of exposure to respirable dust, and especially respirable silica, and measures of respiratory health status including symptoms, pulmonary function testing, and chest radiography. Individual miners' current and cumulative dust and ... More >>

Respiratory diseases among Zambian copper miners 

> > University of Michigan/Fogarty International Center Southern Africa Program in Environmental and Occupational Health (Principal Investigator)

Our group has been continually funded by the Fogarty International Center since 1996 to strengthen capacity through training and research in Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) in the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. The major strategy for sustainable capacity building is to leverage regional strengths in South Africa to support the development of academic research and training Centers of Excellence in EOH in Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Methods of capacity strengthening include funding students in ... More >>

University of Michigan/Fogarty International Center Southern Africa Program in Environmental and Occupational Health 

> > The University of Michigan Education and Research Center (Principal Investigator)

The University of Michigan Center for Occupational Health and Safety Engineering (COHSE), a NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center (ERC), provides comprehensive professional and research training in Industrial Hygiene (IH), Occupational Health Nursing (OHN), Occupational Safety Engineering and Ergonomics (OSE), Hazardous Substances Academic Training (HSAT), Occupational Epidemiology (OE), and Pilot Project Research Training (PPRT). We have functioned as an ERC since 1982. The ERC provide direct funding of Masters and doctoral students, as well as pilot research projects, and generally ... More >>

The University of Michigan Education and Research Center 

> > A Community Based Participatory Research Intervention for Childhood Asthma Using Air Filters and Air Conditioners (Co-Principal Investigator)

Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States. Many important triggers of asthma, including allergens and airborne particulate matter (PM), occur in the indoor environment. This intervention is a randomized controlled trial of the efficacy of air filters (AFs) alone, and AFs together with air conditioners (ACs), to reduce indoor PM and improve health status of children with asthma above and beyond a standard community health worker home visit intervention. The specific aims are ... More >>

A Community Based Participatory Research Intervention for Childhood Asthma Using Air Filters and Air Conditioners 

> > The Health Status and Risk Factors Associated With Adverse Health Outcomes Among The Durban South Community Durban Metro, South Africa (Additional Personnel)

The objectives of this study are to (1) determine the health status of the Durban South residents, with specific reference to respiratory health outcomes and other chronic diseases and to determine the relationship between environmental pollution, these health outcomes and the quality of life within this community, particularly among susceptible populations, and (2) to describe the range of ambient exposures and to assess the potential risks posed by such exposures to the health of the community in the Durban South.... More >>

The Health Status and Risk Factors Associated With Adverse Health Outcomes Among The Durban South Community Durban Metro, South Africa 

Selected Publications

Search PubMed for publications by Thomas Robins >>

Lopata, A.L., Jeebhay, M.F., Reese, G., Fernandes, J., Fenemore, J., Fenemore, B., Elliot, A., Robins, T.G. and Lehrer, S.B. (2005). Detection of fish antigens aerosolized during fish processing using newly developed immunoassays. Int Arch Allergy Immunol., 1, 21-28.

Naidoo, R., Robins, T.G., Seixas, N., Lalloo, U.G. and Becklake, M. (May, 2005). Differential respirable dust related lung function effects between current and former South African coal miners. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 4, 293-302.

Naidoo, R., Robins, T.G., Murray, J., Green, F. and Vallyathan, V. (2005). Validation of the coal minor autopsy data in the Pathaut database. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1, 83-90.

Lewis, T.C., Robins, T.G., Dvonch, J.T., Keeler, G.J., Yip, F.Y., Mentz, G.B., Lin, X., Parker, E.A., Israel, B.A., Gonazalez, L. and Hill, Y. (2005). Air pollution associated changes in lung function among asthmatic children in Detroit. Environmental Health Perspectives, 8, 1068-1075.

Edgren, K.K., Parker, E.A., Israel, B.A., Lewis, T.C., Salinas, M.A., Robins, T.G. and Hill, Y.R. (2005). Community involvement in the conduct of a health education intervention and research project: Community Action Against Asthma. Health Promotion Practice, 3, 263-269.

Parker, E.A., Brakefield-Caldwell, W., Keeler, G., Lewis, T.C., Ramirez, E., Robins, T.G., Rowe, Z. and Williams, M. (2004). Community Action Against Asthma: Examining the partnership process of a community-based participatory research project. J Gen Internal Medicine, In Press.

Dalvie, M.A., Myers, J.E., Thompson, M.L., Robins, T.G., Omar, S. and Riebow, J. (2004). Exploration of different methods for measuring DDT exposure amongst malaria vector control workers in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Environmental Research, 20-27.

Dalvie, M.A., Myers, J.E., Thompson, M.L., Robins, T.G., Dye, S., Riebow, J., Molekwa, J., Jeebhay, M., Millar, R. and Kruger, P. (2004). The long term effects of DDT exposure on semen, fertility and sexual function of malaria vector control workers in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Environmental Research, 1-8.