Mary Kay O'Rourke

Research Focus Group Membership: 
Research Focus Group 1

PhD University of Arizona, 1986

College Affiliations: 

College Of Medicine
College Of Public Health

Research Interests: 

Environmental health; epidemiology; immune diseases; maternal and child health

Environmental Health Research & Expertise: 

Throughout her career, Dr. O'Rourke has worked on field-based surveys to determine human exposure at homes within communities. These skills are particularly useful in translational research. Her early work focused on assessment of local pollen exposures. In later studies this work expanded to examine the role of pollen, other biologicals (fungi and house dust mites), and household exposure of PM10 & 2.5 NOx, and formaldehyde on respiratory status. Her current research focuses on exposures in four areas: children's exposure to pesticide; the spatial relationship between arsenic exposure, biomarkers and disease; the role of food ingestion on arsenic exposure; and factors affecting soil type, Coccidioides immitis presence, and Valley Fever prevalence. Each of these surveys actively recruits and investigates home sin communities. She was a Principal Investigator (or Co PI) on several exposure assessment surveys investigating metal, pesticide, VOC and PAH exposures (NHEXAS AZ, Arizona Border Survey, 2 children's pesticide exposure surveys, and two binational projects; the latest examines relationships between arsenic exposure and genetic polymorphisms. She has extensive experience in designing and implementing exposure assessment field surveys, quality assurance programs and the data processing protocols for large studies. She is an Associate Professor at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate Environmental and Occupation Health. She served as the Secretary General of the International association for Aerobiology (IAA) from 1990-1994, an IAA councilor from 1994-98, Pan American Aerobioloy Secretary-Treasurer (1988-93) and Conference Chair (1999) and an International Society for Exposure Analysis Councilor from 1999-20002. She was co-chair of the ISEA (now ISES) conference in Tucson, AZ in 2005 and has servedon technical program committees for additonal meetings. Because of her expertise in exposure assessment, she was recruited to become a member of the SWEHSC and of RFG2.

Select Publications


Kurzius-Spencer, M., J. L. Burgess, R. B. Harris, V. Hartz, J. Roberge, S. Huang, C-H. Hsu, and M. K. O'Rourke, "Contribution of diet to aggregate arsenic exposures-an analysis across populations.", J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol, vol. 24, issue 2, pp. 156-62, 2014 Mar-Apr. PubMed PMCID: PMC4027043  PMID: 23860400


Kurzius-Spencer, M., M. K. O'Rourke, C-H. Hsu, V. Hartz, R. B. Harris, and J. L. Burgess, "Measured versus modeled dietary arsenic and relation to urinary arsenic excretion and total exposure.", J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol, vol. 23, issue 4, pp. 442-9, 2013 Jul. PubMed PMCID: PMC4039495  PMID: 23321855