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Felicia Wu - Research
My research applies mathematical modeling and social science tools to environmental health problems. In particular, I am interested in food safety and indoor environmental quality, and the economics of regulating these. Here are some of my ongoing research areas:
- Indoor environmental quality : Though we spend upward of 90% of our time indoors, indoor environments have received far less regulatory and public health attention than outdoor environments. What impediments exist to developing regulatory policies to improve indoor environments, and how can we overcome those impediments? My research goals are to: establish the link among mold and moisture prevalence in homes, children's asthma, and socioeconomic factors; examine the cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce indoor mold and to improve indoor air quality in general; develop effective communication instruments to inform homeowners on how to improve and maintain their home environmental quality; and to develop recommendations for national and local policy to improve indoor air for better public health.
- Mycotoxins : Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that colonize crops, which can be toxic or carcinogenic to humans and animals. In this area, I have developed models to estimate the economic impacts of mycotoxins in several areas: animal health, human health, benefits of genetically modified Bt corn in lowering mycotoxins, and regulations – particularly the strict mycotoxin regulations imposed by the European Union. My newest area concerns estimating the economic impact on livestock health of mycotoxins in corn-based ethanol co-products, which are fed to animals.
- Genetically modified crops : The majority of the corn, cotton, and soybean fields we plant today in the U.S. are genetically modified, in most cases for herbicide tolerance and/or pest protection. GM crops have a variety of benefits for growers and secondarily for animals and humans (for example, through mycotoxin reduction), but it is important to fully understand and reduce any potential environmental and food safety risks. My work in this area concerns quantitative benefit-risk assessment of environmental and health impacts of GM crops, and application to improving policy. I have particularly looked at issues of pesticide and mycotoxin reduction. For this work, I have spoken at the United Nations Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety 4th Meeting of the Parties, on mycotoxin reduction in Bt corn and its health and economic benefits.
I am always happy to discuss these topics more at length with those who are interested. Feel free to send me an email at few8 AT pitt DOT edu.
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