CalFit for the European PHENOTYPE Study

The European PHENOTYPE study is investigating the relationship between the natural environment and human health and wellbeing. The study led by Mark Nieuwenhuijsen at ISGlobal (previously CREAL) aims to explore people’s exposures to greenspace through the use of a variety of assessment methods.

One approach that was used in a subset of approximately 400 PHENOTYPE study subjects in four European countries was an Android smartphone app.  The app, CalFit was developed by my research group explicitly for exposure assessment studies. The app tracks time-location patterns using GPS and physical activity using accelerometry.  Different versions of the CalFit app were developed to fit the needs of different environmental health studies, including studies in the US and in China.  For the PHENOTYPE study an Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) module was developed that asked study subjects to answer occasional questions about their affective state (e.g., stress, happiness, etc.) in different environments. The EMA also prompts subjects to collect videos of their surroundings.

The app was designed for Android version 2.3.6, and was only deployed on Samsung Galaxy Y study phones. Since development of the CalFit app was carried out a few years ago, no testing on current generation Android phones has been done, and it is unclear whether the app still operates as designed with newer versions of Android or newer phones.  The app is available here, without support and with minimal documentation:

CalFit Program v20130716 with Dutch, English, Lithuanian, and Spanish PHENOTYPE surveys

While CalFit is no longer being supported, my group is developing a new app from scratch to leverage the current capabilities of smart devices. It will be released under a new name, and with a new focus not only on environmental exposure assessment, but on behavioral health.  Look for this new app to be used in the NIH “Native-Controlling Hypertension and Risk Through Technology (NATIVE-CHART)” study led by Dedra Buchwald at Washington State University.

If you have interest in using the new app, please contact me: Edmund Seto


UW awarded EPA Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities Grant

Yakama youth engaged in the EnviroMentors program talk to their congressman (photo from C. Karr)

A new grant from the EPA’s Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities program will enable University of Washington air pollution researchers to partner with the Yakima Valley’s Heritage University faculty whose undergraduates represent the community’s population of predominately Yakama Nation and Latino immigrants. Working with local students, the partners aim to address key scientific questions pertaining to woodsmoke exposures, health effects, and interventions in Yakima. The group will use both sophisticated research instruments as well as next-generation low-cost sensors for use in these collaborative studies, and explore effective strategies for data dissemination and communication to the broader community. A goal of the project is to engage Heritage students to be community problem-solvers, using air quality monitoring information to address issues of woodsmoke air pollution that are responsive to multi-generational and multi-cultural perspectives and concerns.

The project is expected to produce a new air pollution curriculum adaptable for use in other mentored student research settings incorporating use of next-generation sensors. The investigators expect 90 high school students and 12 undergraduates to benefit from the new curriculum over the course of the study.

The principal investigator of the project is UW Professor, Catherine Karr.  Collaborators on the study include Jessica Black from Heritage University, and UW faculty Tim Larson, Edmund Seto, Chris Simpson, and Michael Yost.

The Seto Lab will be responsible for developing the next-generation sensor platform for monitoring woodsmoke for the project.

UW’s grant is one of six awarded in US EPA’s Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities program.