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 Meeting Focuses on Advancing Environmental Health Literacy
On September 22-24, more than 120 researchers, community leaders, and government representatives gathered at NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina to advance the field of environmental health literacy (EHL). There was a distinct spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm among meeting attendees who shared ideas about communication strategies, EHL evaluation methods, and how to move the field forward.
The meeting was organized to foster dialogue and the sharing of ideas. Attendees sat around small tables and engaged in group discussions after each of the four meeting sessions. The meeting reached more than those who made the trip to NIEHS – ten groups across the country organized Watch Parties to view session presentations in real time and address discussion topics, just like the conference attendees. Poster presentations also stimulated conversations among meeting participants – 26 posters highlighted community-engaged research projects and efforts to increase and evaluate EHL. The meeting closed with a day of hands-on workshops, which covered a range of topics, including increasing EHL among healthcare professionals and in the classroom, EHL evaluation metrics, cultural communication, and using tools to engage communities in research.
Visit the PEPH Annual Meeting Web page for more information about the meeting goals, posters, and presentations that stimulated many important conversations on EHL. Stay tuned for the meeting report, which will provide a summary of the key themes and recommendations that emerged from the event.
Inspiring Youth to Become Environmental Health and Justice Leaders
Educating youth about environmental health and justice issues can inspire them to be agents of change in their own neighborhoods. This was the goal of the inaugural Environmental Justice Summer Institute (EJSI), a partnership program between several nonprofit groups and the NIEHS/EPA University of Southern California (USC) Children’s Environmental Health Center. Through the program, local high school students learn about environmental health science and gain the skills to become environmental health leaders in their communities.
The students learned firsthand how their communities – which are surrounded by major roadways and are a flyover path for jets landing at the Los Angeles International Airport – bear a disproportionate share of environmental health issues. They used air and noise monitoring devices to track pollution levels at 14 locations around their neighborhoods, selecting places where they live, learn, and hang out. They mapped their findings to show high and low pollution locations in their neighborhoods, showing that areas under flyover paths had 10 times as many ultrafine particles as near the beach. The students also created videos as a way to voice their environmental concerns. They hope to use the videos to educate and engage local residents and to advocate for healthier communities.
The 14-session program culminated with a group presentation during the Environmental Committee meeting of the Empowerment Congress. The Committee members engaged in a question and answer session with the students, giving them a chance to explain how they might utilize the knowledge and experience gained during the program.
Students left the program more equipped to take leadership roles in their communities. According to community partner Scott Chan, one student from the program engaged friends and teachers to start an Environmental Justice Club at her high school. Chan is Program Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance, a partner in the USC Children’s Center that focuses on air pollution and possible links to obesity and metabolic consequences. “We are very pleased with our community-academic partnership and are excited to see the grassroots changes programs like EJSI can inspire,” said Chan.
The EJSI program is also funded by the NIEHS USC Environmental Health Sciences Core Center, the Kresge Foundation, and the California Wellness Foundation.
Visit the USC blog to learn more about the community partners, EJSI program, and to watch the student-created videos.
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.
UNC BCERP Website Educates Young Black Women about Breast Cancer
On October 1, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (UNC BCERP) will launch an interactive website devoted to educating young African American women about environmental risk factors for breast cancer. Researchers in the UNC BCERP who are studying the environmental influences on basal-like breast cancer in black women under 50, partnered with staff in the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) of the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS) and the UNC School of Information and Library Science to develop the website. Before creating the site, the COEC conducted focus groups to understand African American women’s perceptions of breast cancer and to learn where they get health information. They discovered that many young black women did not feel represented in breast cancer awareness campaigns, which often feature white women. In response, BCERP and COEC staff created videos featuring young black breast cancer survivors, breast cancer advocates, and physicians. In addition, the website includes information on breast cancer risk factors and a tool for users to assess personal risk factors. The team has also incorporated built-in analytics to evaluate the website’s effectiveness as a source of breast health information. Although African American women are the target audience for this tool, women of all backgrounds can use it to learn about breast cancer risk. Visit mybcrisk.org to explore the new site.
NIEHS Grantees Identify Community Concerns about Natural Gas Extraction
A team of NIEHS-funded researchers used a prospective approach to incorporate public concerns into the unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) research agenda. Historically, public concerns are considered after environmental health issues emerge. The research team was made up of members from Community Outreach and Engagement Cores within the Environmental Health Science Core Centers at the University of Rochester, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Cincinnati. They conducted interviews in three states (New York, North Carolina, and Ohio) where the UNGD industry is expected to rapidly expand over the next several years. Those interviewed included community leaders, land owners, government and business representatives, and educators and environmental activists with varied opinions about the prospect of UNGD in their regions. Interviewees were concerned about exposures through air and drinking water and about the cumulative, long-term effects on health and quality of life. Several interviewees noted that expected economic growth could benefit community health because, for example, low-income residents might be better able to afford health care. Other key themes included the importance of transparency in the research process and funding, the need for multiple sources of credible information, and the capacity of government agencies to monitor and enforce protective regulations. Read the recently released white paper for an in-depth look at the assessment, including interviewee quotes, or see the article , published in Reviews on Environmental Health, for a summary.
New NLM Video Teaches Kids about Mercury and Health
The National Library of Medicine Environmental Health Student Portal has added “Mercury and Our Health,” an animation about the uses of mercury and how exposure can impact human health. The animation introduces children to mercury, describes mercury-containing products and where mercury is found in the environment, and outlines exposure routes and health impacts of exposure. Watch the video with your students and visit the Environmental Health Student Portal Mercury Web page for resources, lesson plans, games, and activities related to mercury and health.
PEPH Grantee Highlight: Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H.
Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H., is director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) within the NIEHS-funded Center for Environmental Genetics at the University of Cincinnati. She is currently leading several community-based research projects in Ohio, which were all prompted by community concerns about local air quality. Most recently, she has been studying air quality in an area with a growing number of fracking sites. Visit the PEPH Grantee Highlights Web Page to read more about Haynes’ research and accomplishments.
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:
- Alaska community forums highlight tribal health disparities . NIEHS and NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., visited St. Lawrence Island and Chickaloon to listen to community members’ concerns about environmental contamination.
- New study reviews needs for research on health effects of fracking . A new paper by a working group of NIEHS grantees echoes prior recommendations for fracking research but adds a novel twist with a call for community engagement.
- Arizona internship program marks ninth year . Funded in part by NIEHS, this summer the University of Arizona gave 45 more high school interns an intensive seven-week enrichment experience in science.
PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series
The average American woman uses 12 personal care products a day, and men average six products daily. But have you ever read the list of ingredients on your soap, toothpaste, hair products, or cosmetics? In a new podcast, Chemicals in Personal Care Products, learn about these chemicals and how they might affect our health. The podcast features Kyla Taylor, an epidemiologist at the National Toxicology Program at NIEHS, and Ruthann Rudel, director of research at the Silent Spring Institute.
Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings
- October 26-29, 2014: PPTOX IV in Boston, Massachusetts. PPTOX IV hosts the world's leading experts in endocrinology, toxicology, and environmental health. See the program for information on conference sessions.
- November 3-4, 2014: 6th Annual Health Literacy Research Conference in Bethesda, Maryland. This is an interdisciplinary meeting for investigators dedicated to health literacy research.
- November 12-14, 2014: 2014 Annual Meeting of the Superfund Research Program in San Jose, California.
- November 15-19, 2014: 2014 American Public Health Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year’s conference theme is “Healthography: How Where You Live Affects Your Health and Well-Being.” Let us know if you will be presenting at APHA this year! We will compile the "PEPH at APHA" booklet soon.
- November 19-21, 2014: Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. This year's theme is "New Science, New Activism, New Opportunities." As always, community participation and advocacy concerns will be integrated into the program. There is no fee to attend the meeting, but all participants must be pre-registered.
- November 21-22, 2014: NYC Healthy Homes Summit in New York City. Hosted by the community organization WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Columbia’s NIEHS Center for Environmental Health, the summit will engage community groups, advocates, and government officials to launch a NYC Campaign for healthy and asthma- free homes. Contact Ogonnaya Dotson Newman for more information.
- December 1-3, 2014: 2014 National Institute on Minority Health Disparities Grantees’ Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. This year’s conference theme is "Transdisciplinary Collaborations: Evolving Dimensions of U.S. and Global Health Equity."
- 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. Submit an abstract for an oral or poster presentation by October 17, 2014.
- 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.