Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)
PEPH is a network of scientists, community members, educators, healthcare providers, public health officials, and policymakers who share the goal of increasing the impact of environmental public health research at the local, regional, and national level. PEPH defines environmental public health as the science of conducting and translating research into action to address environmental exposures and health risks of concern to the public.
Grantees: for information on how to access the PEPH Resource Center, please contact Liam O'Fallon or Lynn Albert. You can also visit the NIEHS Research Partners page ( http://partners.niehs.nih.gov/ ) to access the Resource Center and other NIEHS shared datasets and applications.
PEPH at APHA Highlight: Roles of Gulf Coast Communities in Post-Disaster Research
The PEPH network had a strong presence at the annual American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting held last month in New Orleans, Louisiana. Several PEPH sessions and posters at APHA focused on communication in the aftermath of disasters. While all of the highlights from APHA are too numerous to share, take a moment to read about the community-academic partnership between the Mary Queen of Vietnam-Community Development Corporation (MQVN-CDC), Tulane University, and Washington State University that is working with a Vietnamese-American community to examine the potential health risks from shrimp consumption after the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. In his presentation , MQVN-CDC project manager Daniel Nguyen emphasized the value of local knowledge and the importance of language in post-disaster research. He noted that including the community throughout the research process, as well as framing messages to meet the cultural needs of the Vietnamese community, is essential to successful outcomes.
To overcome survey fatigue and a general distrust of past research, the project team used a community-based participatory research approach, which began with a series of meetings with community organizers, shrimpers, and the larger Vietnamese community. These meetings helped determine the objective of the study and methods for harvesting shrimp and preparing the samples. Community input led to the researchers’ decision to focus on Gulf white shrimp – the primary type of seafood consumed in this community – and informed where they would collect the shrimp.
Not only did the researchers use community input to help design the study, they also empowered residents by adjusting how they communicated with the Vietnamese-American population. Initially, interactions between residents and researchers were translated from English into Vietnamese. However, the model soon shifted to where the discussions of study results were in Vietnamese and translated into English for the university researchers.
“Involving our community and community partners in the research process from the beginning and having meaningful, respectful discussions, face to face, about what our mutual partnership could do significantly affected and improved what our team accomplished,” said Jeff Wickliffe, Ph.D., co-principal investigator on the project. “Together we were much more capable of producing results that were relevant, understandable, and useful to everyone involved,” he explained.
Moving forward, the researchers will examine the long-term effects of the oil spill on seafood safety. They would also like to apply their community-based model to study other local environmental concerns, including soil, water, and air quality and agricultural contamination.
This project was supported in part by the NIEHS Deepwater Horizon Consortia. In addition to Nguyen and Wickliffe, Scott Frickel, Ph.D., from Washington State University at the time of the project and Tap Bui, MQVN, were also key contributors to the study. For more information, you can also see Tap Bui’s APHA presentation on the importance of community engagement in risk communication.
A Prescription for Prevention
The University of California, San Francisco Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (UCSF PEHSU), a partner of the NIEHS-funded UC Berkeley Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment, developed a toolkit that fills the need for clinical tools that address the link between the environment and children’s health. The Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit contains materials for healthcare providers and patients on preventing exposures to harmful chemicals and other environmental factors that may affect child health.
“Medical education has largely left out environmental health and the toolkit was designed to fill some of that gap. Clinicians are interested and can play a huge role in prevention of exposures, diagnosing environmentally caused disorders, and development of sound policy that protects children,” said Mark Miller, M.D., director of the UCSF PEHSU.
The toolkit was developed by the UCSF PEHSU in partnership with the Greater Boston and San Francisco Bay Area chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the Northern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It was peer reviewed by experts in the field of environmental health. The toolkit team pilot tested the materials at 17 pediatric and family practices in Massachusetts and California and within the UCSF pediatric residency program. A series of continuing medical education training programs in a train-the-trainer format was conducted in 5 states with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Respondents rated the toolkit across four domains: overall content, design, ease of use with patients, and patient receptiveness. Feedback from the pilot testing was used to revise materials to better meet the specific needs of a clinical audience. The final product was endorsed by the AAP.
Toolkit materials targeted at providers contain clear and simple messages that make it easy to insert preventive environmental health messages during well-child visits. An accompanying online toolkit training program, developed in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), offers free continuing education credit for physicians, nurses, and health educators. It uses case studies, a familiar way of learning in the medical community, to highlight the relationship between environmental exposures and children’s health.
For patients and their families, there are colorful posters and magnets with brief prevention tips on mitigating or reducing environmental exposures. “Prescription” slips, which providers hand to families as if prescribing a medication, contain tips for prevention, based on the child’s stage of development. Patient materials are available in English and Spanish.
Educational Modules Help Pediatricians Connect Children's Health and Environment
Getting people to understand the link between their environment and health can be a challenge, especially at the doctor's office. The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) at the University of Cincinnati Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) offers online Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) courses to help bridge the gap between pediatricians and nurses and environmental health issues. "Health care providers need to know about environmental triggers to disease and providing this information through CME/CNE is one viable option," said CEG COEC Director, Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H. The "Pediatric Environmental Health" module discusses concepts of pediatric environmental health and describes health effects, like atopic diseases, associated with common environmental exposures. A second module, "Environmental Management of Pediatric Asthma," provides a scientific overview of various environmental triggers of asthma in children and intervention strategies families can use to control environmental exposures at home. Teaching physicians and nurses how to ask environmental health history questions, such as "Where does your child spend his/her time?" or "What do the adults in the household do for a living?", often leads to answers that make a significant difference in the life of a child, said module author Nicholas Newman, D.O., M.S.
The PEPH Evaluation Metrics Manual provides examples of tangible metrics that PEPH grantees and program staff can use for both planning and evaluation. Example logic models are used as a means to develop evaluation metrics for cross-cutting PEPH themes such as Partnerships, Leveraging, Products and Dissemination, Education and Training and Capacity Building. PEPH grantees (including all project partners) are the primary target audience for this document.
PEPH Annual Meeting Report Recently Released!
We are excited to announce the recent release of the 2014 PEPH Annual Meeting report! As many of you already know, the meeting focused on advancing the field of Environmental Health Literacy (EHL). The report provides an overview of the meeting’s main topics – defining EHL, diverse audiences, tools and technologies, and next steps – and common themes emerging from the presentations and group discussions. For those who were unable to attend the meeting, the report summarizes the diverse presentations and provides some new ways you can incorporate EHL into your work. For meeting participants, the report is a great way to reflect on the discussions, strategies, and collaborations you fostered over the 3-day event. Check out the meeting report on the 2014 PEPH Annual Meeting Web page.
PEPH Grantee Highlights
This month, we are pleased to share with you the stories of two of our PEPH colleagues, Neasha Graves and Viola “Vi” Waghiyi. Read a brief overview of their work below and visit the PEPH Grantee Highlights Web page to learn more about Graves, Waghiyi, and other PEPH colleagues.
- Neasha Graves, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC)
Graves combines her past experiences in high school teaching and adult literacy education with a passion for providing people the tools they need to understand environmental health issues. With her UNC COEC colleagues, she has designed training workshops and materials about lead poisoning and environmental asthma triggers for health professionals, lay people, and parents. She also coordinates outreach activities for the UNC BCERP, most recently helping develop and launch an interactive website designed to help young black women understand their risk for breast cancer. Read the Neasha Graves PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about her environmental health education efforts.
- Viola “Vi” Waghiyi, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT)
Waghiyi serves as ACAT’s Environmental Health and Justice Program Director, working to illuminate the potential health risks associated with environmental chemicals left behind at former military sites on St. Lawrence Island (SLI), Alaska. She examines SLI residents’ exposure to these chemicals and offers trainings so that residents can take action to protect themselves from contamination. Waghiyi is also an advocate for policies that protect human health and the environment, and she has played a role in international decisions to ban the use and release of certain persistent organic pollutants. See the Vi Waghiyi PEPH Grantee Highlight for more on her work to fight for environmental justice in the Arctic.
PEPH in the Environmental Factor
The latest issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor features several stories highlighting our PEPH colleagues. Take a moment to catch up with some of the latest projects, events, and activities happening in the PEPH network:
- Environmental health literacy meeting explores research for better communication. More than one hundred people participated in this year’s PEPH annual meeting, aimed at advancing the field of environmental health literacy.
- Workshop explores ways to protect workers from climate change. The NIEHS Worker Training Program workshop focused on the health risks workers face as climate change becomes more prominent.
- Bioregional planning to improve public and environmental health. Research funded in part by the NIEHS proposes a One Border/One Health approach to improve public health in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series
In our latest podcast, we consider how our understanding of the impacts of fracking has evolved since we last tackled the issue in 2013. Despite continued debate over the potential public health risks of fracking, many research questions remain unanswered. However, one thing seems clear: community members have an important role to play in research on the impacts of fracking. Listen to A Second Look at the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing to learn more.
Harvard JPB Fellows
We are pleased to announce that two more of our PEPH colleagues – Sara Wylie, Ph.D., from Northeastern University and Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc., from Boston University – were recently named Harvard JPB Environmental Health Fellows! As we noted in last month’s newsletter, the multi-year fellowship program supports junior faculty engaged in research to address environmental health disparities in disadvantaged communities. Wylie’s areas of interest include science and technology, the anthropology of science, environmental health, environmental justice, and new media. She seeks to develop new modes of studying and intervening in large-scale social issues, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, through a fusion of social scientific, scientific, and art/design practices. Scammell’s areas of research include the use of qualitative methods in the area of community-driven environmental health and epidemiologic studies, mapping and monitoring community-identified environmental health hazards, and analyzing cumulative exposures to chemical and non-chemical stressors. Congratulations Sara, Madeleine, and Annie!
CDC Launches New Infographic-Style Tool
CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) just launched a new and improved Info by Location tool . This infographic-style tool allows you to enter your zip code or county name and view environmental health data and information specific to your county, such as data on demographics, asthma, air quality, smoking, and health insurance coverage. The tool also provides state and national statistics, so you can see how your county measures up in these public and environmental health categories. Visit the Tracking Network to explore the new tool!
Northeastern University Job Openings
- Associate/Full Professor – Interdisciplinary Environmental Health and Community-Engaged Research
The Northeastern Department of Health Sciences seeks an Associate/Full professor and Environmental Health Scientist with a strong background in community-based participatory research, environmental justice, and social science-environmental health collaborations. The faculty member will be part of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), which specializes in collaborative research at the intersection of social science and environmental health science. This will be a joint appointment between the Department of Health Sciences of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, which will be the tenure home, and the appropriate department or school in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. It may be possible for the joint appointment to be in a different college of the university. Applicants must have a doctoral degree in Environmental Health, Environmental Science, Exposure Science, or a related field. Evaluation of candidates will begin December 1, 2014, and applications will be accepted until the position is filled. See the job posting for full details.
- Northeastern SRP Senior Research Scientist/Engineer
The Northeastern University Superfund Research Program (SRP) PROTECT Center is seeking a senior research scientist/engineer with experience and focus on environmental health, specifically in one or more of the following areas: health informatics, geospatial informatics, or environmental epidemiology. This position requires a Ph.D. or equivalent in environmental engineering, epidemiology, biostatistics, geology, biomedical, or other related quantitative fields with 3-6 years of experience, including progressively more responsible, independent research work evidenced by publications, inventions, or equivalent efforts. See the job posting for more information.
NEHA Job Opening
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) invites members to apply for its Executive Director position. No particular professional background is presupposed; while a background and record of success in environmental health is welcome, the primary selection criteria are service at the key executive level in larger not-for-profit organizations or some combination of similar professional background. The position requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a field related to business, public administration, not-for-profit management, or a similar field and a minimum of ten years of experience in managing complex organizations and relationships. A graduate degree in business, not-for-profit management or public administration, or a related discipline is preferred. The Board of Directors may consider a combination of work experience and education on a case-by-case basis, assuming an appropriate demonstration of professional success and achievement. While NEHA recommended submitting applications by November 21, they will accept all applications until the position is filled. See the job posting for full details.
The BUILD Health Challenge: Improving Health through Innovative Collaborations
The BUILD Health Challenge is designed to encourage communities to build meaningful partnerships to improve the overall health of local residents. BUILD – Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local, and Data-driven – is a collaborative program created in a partnership of the Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. Funding partners will award up to $7.5 million to support initiatives in as many as 14 low-income urban neighborhoods across the United States. Specifically, the BUILD Health Challenge will give planning and implementation awards to strengthen partnerships among hospitals, nonprofits, local health departments, and other community organizations to improve the health of low-income neighborhoods within cities with populations greater than 150,000. A Web conference for potential applicants will be held December 2, 4, and 9; applications are due January 16, 2015. See the funding announcement for more information, other key dates, and to register for one of the Q&A Web conferences.
EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar
The December EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar will focus on windows of exposure and vulnerabilities during adolescence. The webinar will take place Wednesday, December 10, 1:00-2:30 p.m. EST. Register online .
Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings
February 4-6, 2015: Children’s Environmental Health Network 2015 Research Conference in Austin, Texas. The conference will explore how the interaction between food and environmental factors affects children’s health.
February 11-12, 2015: Citizen Science 2015 in San Jose, California. This is the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association. Citizen science participants, researchers, project leaders, educators, technology specialists, evaluators, and others will gather to move the field forward.
March 12-14, 2015: Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy’s Eighth Health Disparities Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference will focus on replicable interprofessional collaborative models and approaches from the clinical, research, and community arenas that integrate all levels of providers to improve health outcomes, eliminate health disparities, and achieve health equity. Submit an abstract for a poster or oral presentation by January 16, 2015.