Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)
Liam R. O'Fallon, M.A. (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/phb/ofallon/index.cfm)
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.
UWM Education Program Sparks Student Interest in Environmental Health Sciences
By allowing students to become the scientists, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Wisconsin Inquiry-based Scientist-Teacher Education Partnership (WInSTEP) program (https://www4.uwm.edu/cehsc/community/sepa.cfm) is helping change students’ attitudes towards science in the classroom. The program, which is funded by the NIEHS through the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) (https://www.ncrrsepa.org/) program out of the Office of the Director, NIH, lets high school students conduct experiments on environmental health issues, such as lead poisoning and the impact of toxic chemicals on neurodevelopment, and also hone their scientific communication skills. "Our program provides students with the opportunity for immersion experiences in doing and communicating science. Many find that they like it, respond enthusiastically, and are looking for more," said David Petering, Ph.D., a co-principal investigator on the SEPA grant. During the school year, the students study the effects of environmental toxicants on zebrafish embryo development, earthworm behavior, and fathead minnow reproductive behavior, which serve as models for understanding human health effects. To develop their scientific communication skills, students write scientific research papers, create posters, and are challenged to translate the knowledge gained through their research to human health. The year-long program culminates with an annual Student Research Conference where students share their research with a diverse crowd, including environmental health scientists and graduate students.
The 2014 WInSTEP Student Research Conference was held April 1 on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) campus. Over 300 high school science students attended to share their papers and posters, answer questions about their research, and listen to presentations from environmental health scientists. Students report enjoying WInSTEP’s hands-on approach to science and that participating in the program has increased their knowledge about environmental health. “The Student Research Conference gives students the opportunity to communicate their original research with others,” said Renee Hesselbach, Outreach Specialist for the WInSTEP Program, “the event celebrates the work of young scientists and encourages them to continue in STEM-related fields in the future.”
The 2014 conference papers and posters will be posted on the WInSTEP Teen Connection (https://www4.uwm.edu/cehsc/community/teen_connections.cfm) website in May. Visit the website to view the outstanding work done by these high school science students!
Understanding the Link between Air Pollution, Climate, and Heart Health
Climate change is expected (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1307262/) to increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of heat waves and may also increase the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and death related to cardiovascular conditions. A “Cardiology Patient Page (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/128/21/e411.full) ,” recently published in the journal Circulation, explains how both air pollution and extreme temperatures affect heart health and provides patients with specific steps they can take to protect their cardiovascular health. Lead author and NIEHS grantee Diane Gold, M.D., from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, cites American Heart Association scientific statements and extensive reviews that conclude that air pollution poses a risk to heart health, particularly for people with preexisting heart conditions. According to Dr. Gold, when extreme heat events and high levels of air pollution occur simultaneously, the combination may pose a particularly dangerous exposure scenario for susceptible individuals. The article highlights that “especially if air conditioning is not available, very hot weather is dangerous for those with heart disease, the elderly, and persons taking cardiovascular medications that limit a person’s ability to cope with heat.” Gold provides patients with specific educational resources and actions they can take to protect their own heart health and the health of their family, neighbors, and community from risks caused by air pollution and extreme weather. For example, she describes how patients who have internet access can monitor local air quality forecasts and advises people to plan activities when air pollution levels are lower. She also encourages people to offer the elderly and other vulnerable people in their community “help they can trust,” such as a shelter with air conditioning and water during periods of extreme heat or prolonged power outages, or a safe warm place during periods of extreme cold. According to Dr. Gold, “Clean air and safe outdoor environmental conditions are community resources often not within the control of individuals. A three-pronged approach, with actions at the individual, neighborhood/community, and national level, may be needed to protect heart health when susceptible people are exposed to air pollution or weather extremes.”
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) (http://eh.uc.edu/ceg/coec/) at the University of Cincinnati Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) (http://www.eh.uc.edu/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. (http://www.eh.uc.edu/dir_individual_details.asp?qcontactid=687) The "Pediatric Environmental Health" (http://eh.uc.edu/ceg/coec/community_modules.html) 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,"(http://eh.uc.edu/ceg/coec/community_modules.html) 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. (http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/bio/N/nicholas-newman/)
The CEG COEC leveraged funds from NIEHS and the National Environmental Education Foundation (http://www.neefusa.org/) to develop and disseminate the modules, which are located on the CEG COEC's Educational Materials Web page. (http://eh.uc.edu/ceg/coec/community_modules.html)
The PEPH Evaluation Metrics Manual (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/programs/peph/metrics/index.cfm) 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.
NEW! Online PEPH Evaluation Metrics Training (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/programs/peph/metrics/training/)
Current Issue of the PEPH Newsletter (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/programs/peph/materials/currentissue/)
NIEHS to Host Virtual Forum on Autism and the Environment
April marks National Autism Awareness Month, and to help raise awareness, NIEHS is hosting a Virtual Forum on Autism and the Environment (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/community/communityforums/autism/). The virtual forum will be webcast live on Tuesday, April 22 from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. ET, and will feature a panel discussion and Q&A session on autism spectrum disorders and the environment. The panel of experts includes:
- Linda Birnbaum, NIEHS/NTP
- Alan Brown, Columbia University
- Irva Hertz-Picciotto, UC Davis MIND Institute
- Cindy Lawler, NIEHS
- Avi Reichenberg, Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Seaver Center for Autism Research and Treatment
- Heather E. Volk, Keck School of Medicine and Saban Research Institute, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Duke SRP Involves Public in Flame Retardant Study
The Duke Superfund Research Program (SRP) is inviting the public to be part of a study (http://foam.pratt.duke.edu/) aimed at examining the use of flame retardant chemicals in furniture. Members of the public can submit a sample (http://foam.pratt.duke.edu/node/67) of furniture foam to see if specific chemical flame retardants were applied to furniture in their homes. The study will allow individuals to make more informed decisions on the types of products they want to have in their homes and will help the Duke SRP better understand which flame retarding chemicals are currently being used in furniture. The data collected will allow for investigations into how people are exposed to these chemicals in the home and if the chemicals impact human health.
PEPH in the Environmental Factor
The March 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 and activities happening in the PEPH network:
- Birnbaum highlights human health effects at Gulf oil spill conference (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2014/3/spotlight-gulfoil/)
At the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference Jan. 26-29, NIEHS and NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., emphasized the need for prospective research to understand the health effects of the Gulf oil spill on workers, the community, and especially sensitive populations.
- PEPH webinar highlights alternative testing methods (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2014/3/science-peph/)
The NIEHS PEPH program sponsored a webinar (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/programs/peph/webinars/alternative_models/) Jan. 23 highlighting the Institute’s commitment to develop, apply, and validate cutting-edge scientific methods aimed at ensuring human and animal health, while protecting the environment.
- Conference highlights the known and unknown in fracking debate (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2014/3/spotlight-fracking/)
At a Feb. 18 symposium, presenters from industry, academia, government, and the community discussed what is known — and especially what is not known — about the public health impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast: Citizen Science
Tracking pollutants and investigating their health impacts requires expensive equipment and years of specialized training…or does it? In the Citizen Science (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/programs/peph/podcasts/citizen_science/) podcast, we’re taking a look at some real-world science being done by everyday people with low-cost research tools. The podcast highlights the benefits of citizen science and some key considerations to ensure it is done properly.
Stay tuned for our upcoming podcasts! Find past podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat (https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/programs/peph/podcasts/) Web page or subscribe to the series on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/environmental-health-chat/id593495897?mt=2) .
PEPH Webinar: Assessing Population Vulnerability to Climate Change
Certain populations are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of climate change, including children, pregnant women, the elderly, individuals from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, and those living in urban or coastal areas. The PEPH webinar, “Assessing Population Vulnerability to Health Impacts of Climate Change,” will describe ongoing research focused on assessing factors that may mediate increased risks among select vulnerable populations. The webinar will be held April 25, 2014, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. ET. Register online (https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/854126682) .
EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar on Prenatal Exposures and Prevention
In this month’s EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar, four presenters will discuss their research on preconception and prenatal exposures and preventing harmful exposures before and during pregnancy. The webinar will be held April 9, 2014 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET. Register online (http://www.scgcorp.com/epaniehs2012/) .
Call for Abstracts for 2014 International Symposium on Minority Health and Health Disparities
Start preparing your abstracts for the 2014 International Symposium on Minority Health and Health Disparities (http://ismhhd.com/index.html#.U0LrbVeZgVK) ! Abstracts are categorized into broad thematic areas related to domestic and global transdisciplinary collaborations on minority health, health disparities, and health equity. The symposium will take place December 1-3, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland; abstracts (http://ismhhd.com/abstracts.html#.U0LrEFeZgVJ) are due June 2, 2014.
Call for Abstracts: Our Health and Our Housing Conference
WE ACT for Environmental Justice and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan announce a call for abstracts of papers to be presented at a conference entitled “Our health and our housing: Creating affordable healthy housing through advocacy, organizing and research.” The conference will be held in Fall/Winter 2014 in New York City. Abstract submissions are invited for research, reports, or presentations to be published in the conference primer. In addition, a subset of papers will be published in a special edition of a prominent journal, Environmental Justice. Submissions can include work that is unpublished and original work that has been previously published. Submit abstracts via the online form (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/19UHM-CjZXlJg-6dYewmVxH3BhQNbyu1MRA_XKZL68N0/viewform) by April 15, 2014; contact Ms. Ogonnaya Dotson Newman (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions about the submission process.
Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings
- April 30 - May 3, 2014: Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Conference (https://ccph.memberclicks.net/conference-overview) in Chicago, Illinois. Also be sure to check out the preconference workshops (https://ccph.memberclicks.net/program#Pre-Conference) !
- May 7-9, 2014: National Training Conference on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and Environmental Conditions in Communities (http://www2.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/2014-national-training-conference) in Arlington, Virginia. The conference serves as the main public outreach and training event for EPA’s TRI program, which provides communities with information about toxic chemical releases and waste management activities.
- June 9-21, 2014: Summer Institute in Environmental Health Sciences (http://www.jhsph.edu/departments/environmental-health-sciences/summer-institute/) . The Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health is offering a two-week Summer Institute for students in degree programs and for public health professionals interested in learning more about environmental health sciences concepts.
- July 7-10, 2014: National Environmental Health Association Annual Educational Conference and Exhibition (http://neha2014aec.org/About) , in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- August 11-22, 2014: NIMHD Translational Health Disparities Course: Integrating Principles of Science, Practice and Policy in Health Disparities Research in Bethesda, Maryland. The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will host a course on the science of health disparities to provide specialized instruction on the concepts, principles, methods, and applications of health disparities science, practice, and policy. It will also integrate principles and practice of community engagement. The course is free, but admission is competitive. Submit an application via the NIMHD website (http://www.nimhd.nih.gov/) from April 14, 2014 to May 22, 2014. For additional information contact: NIMHDHealthDC@mail.nih.gov (NIMHDHealthDC@mail.nih.gov)