Sumil Thakrar Environmental Scientist


  • Air quality health impacts of India’s coal plants (2024) A quarter of the air quality-related health impacts of India’s coal-powered electricity (~43,600 deaths/year) are from units that generate just 3.5% of the total energy. Paper

  • Updating air quality activity guidelines (2024). Current US air quality activity guidelines (e.g., remaining indoors and avoiding exercise during high pollution episodes) are of questionable relevance as public health recommendations. We should have more targeted activity guidelines that only apply to the highest risk people, but we should not lose sight of the potential for more broadly-applied exposure-side interventions. Commentary

  • Air quality and vehicle electrification in India (2024). Increased vehicle electrification in India will worsen air quality and health if the vehicles are powered by the current (coal-dominated) electricity grid. But transitioning to a cleaner grid alongside vehicle electrification can greatly improve air quality and health. Paper

  • Air quality and land-use decisions (2024). Air quality health effects of land-use decisions, though neglected, are often larger in value than the carbon storage and agricultural returns combined. Paper, Research brief

  • Nitrogen management for people and planet (2023). Current nitrogen use in US Midwestern corn is net bad for society, leading to $21.3 billion annual losses. Better nitrogen management, through limiting reactive nitrogen emissions, lowering nitrogen input, and land retirement for the most unproductive and damaging corn, can turn these losses (almost) into gains. Paper

  • GTAP-InVEST (2023). The integration of a computable general equilibrium model (GTAP) with a suite of ecosystem service models (InVEST) to model how the economy and the environment interact. Paper

  • Sustainability science at the meso-scale (2023). An emerging paradigm in sustainability science connects large-scale economic drivers of change (e.g., international trade, population dynamics) with small-scale environmental effects (e.g., crop yields, biodiversity indicators). But human decisions and the environment typically interact at the “meso-scale” (e.g., national or sub-national policies, agro-environmental management), which is often left out of the paradigm. Paper

  • Air quality and electricity generation in India (2022). Poorer, coal-dependent states in eastern India are disproportionately burdened by air pollution health impacts from electricity generation. Sulfur emission controls reduce the burden by 50% throughout India, and lessen state-level inequalities. Carbon taxes and nationally integrated electricity markets reduce deaths by only ~10%, mostly in South India. Paper

  • Air quality and electricity generation in Southeast Asia (2022). Southeast Asia expects to double electricity generation by 2040, increasing the share of coal-powered generation in the process, and thereby worsening air quality. Achieving the ASEAN High Renewable Energy Target is associated with 16,000 fewer deaths each year, relative to business-as-usual, by 2040. Report, Fact sheet

  • Global InMAP (2022). Development and evaluation of a global, open source, high-resolution, low-resource air quality model. Paper, Data

  • Air quality impacts of the global food system (2021). Around a quarter of outdoor air quality-related deaths worldwide are attributable to the global food system. Emissions are from across the supply chain, and include the majority of anthropogenic primary fine particulate matter emissions. Paper, Media

  • Air quality and the United States food system (2021). Attributing air quality-related deaths from agriculture to sources, food products, and diets, reveals that 80% of the ~16,000 food-related air quality deaths are from producing meat, dairy, and eggs. Even switching from an average diet to a flexitarian diet will reduce the deaths by 68%. Paper, Media

  • Climate impacts of the global food system (2020). Changes in the food system are necessary to meet our climate goals—even if fossil fuel combustion is rapidly halted. Paper, Media

  • Climate and air quality impacts from diversifying cropping systems (2020). Results from a long-term field experiment show that even adding one more small grain crop, like oats, to the dominant corn-soy rotation in the US Midwest can halve the life-cycle climate damages, air quality impacts, and fossil fuel use—all whilst maintaining farmer profits. Paper, Media

  • Air quality impacts of every human-caused US emission source (2020). This study breaks down the 100,000 deaths each year from human-caused air pollution in the US, attributing them to every single emission source. The deaths are not just from fossil fuels, not just from tailpipes and smokestacks, not just from regulated pollutants. Paper, Media

  • Racial inequity and air pollution (2019). Non-Hispanic white Americans, on average, induce more pollution exposure from their consumption than they are, on average, exposed to. The opposite is true for Hispanic and black Americans. Paper, Media

  • Air quality impacts of US corn production (2019). Life cycle corn production in the United States is associated with 4,300 deaths each year from changes in air quality alone. Paper, Media

  • Air quality impacts of switchgrass production (2018). To my knowledge, the first study to quantify how farmer decisions such as where to grow crops and how to fertilize them impact human health through changes in air pollution. Paper, Data, Media