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.
Training the Next Generation of Environmental Health Scientists
Recruiting and training the next generation of environmental health scientists is essential to sustain the pipeline of future environmental health researchers. This is the goal of the University of California, Berkeley’s (UCB) “STEER Program: Short Term Educational Experiences for Research in Environmental Health for Undergraduate Students,” funded by the NIEHS Summer Research Experience Program. Through the program, a select group of undergraduate students spend their summer working alongside an experienced UCB faculty mentor, gaining research experience and learning how to navigate an academic research career in the environmental health sciences (EHS).
“There is a worldwide shortage of scientists in environmental health, yet with global issues such as increasing levels of air pollution and climate change, it is likely to become one of the most relevant and important fields in public health,” said program Director Michael Bates, Ph.D. “Our students gain a wide exposure to many sub-disciplines of environmental health, including toxicology, environmental epidemiology, and exposure science, as well as an introduction to the current and emerging issues on which the field is focused.”
At the start of the program, the students are paired with a faculty mentor who is researching a topic in which they share an interest. Throughout the 9-week program, each student works with his/her research team collecting data, reviewing relevant literature, performing laboratory experiments, or analyzing data. The students also attend twice-weekly seminars that include presentations given by faculty on their research programs and various aspects of EHS, as well as talks on ethics in science and advice on getting into graduate school.
The students don’t spend all of their time in the lab or lecture rooms. Each summer, the group takes field trips to sites of occupational and environmental health relevance, such as a stone quarry and a wastewater treatment plant. There is also a social program, including barbecues, hikes, and a baseball game. Activities are aided by a contribution to the program from the Northern California Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH).
At the end of the summer, the students get the opportunity to hone their science communication skills by presenting the results of their 9-week research project to the other students, faculty, and guests.
The UCB program is funded through NIEHS’s participation in the NIH Summer Research Experience Program. To learn about NIEHS programs to educate and train science teachers, high school students, and college undergraduates, check out the NIH Summer Internship Program and the Administrative Supplements for Summer Research Experiences for Students and Science Teachers Program.
Training Public Health Professionals to Improve Environmental Health Literacy
A growing body of evidence links low health literacy and poor health. Public health professionals play an important role in helping individuals, families, and communities understand health information. This is a critical step to promoting healthy behaviors and improving public health.
As part of an ongoing effort to increase environmental health literacy, the NIEHS-funded Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) of the UNC Chapel Hill Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS) engages public health professionals to teach their patients and clients about how the environment can affect their health. Through the program, the COEC trains a variety of public health professionals to increase environmental health literacy, particularly in the areas of healthy homes and asthma.
"Working directly with public health professionals not only helps the COEC extend its reach broadly across North Carolina, but it also connects us to people who are focused on cultivating environmental health literacy in every community," said COEC Director Kathleen Gray. "They are eager to learn about current science and work with us to figure out how it can best be applied locally."
In the past year, the program has had far reaching effects. Public health and housing professionals who participated in the COEC's day-long Healthy Homes for Community Health Workers training have shared information from the training with more than 500 individuals and families during home and clinical visits. Another training prepared nearly 100 public health nurses, social workers, housing professionals, and asthma advocates to inform patients and their families about reducing environmental triggers of asthma in the home. The COEC also engaged more than 250 nurses in a webinar that outlined federal guidelines to protect the health of young mothers and their infants from lead poisoning.
The COEC is now working with CEHS researchers to share emerging science on skin cancer with child care health consultants. They are also collaborating with the UNC School of Information and Library Science to develop a website to educate younger African American women and their healthcare providers about breast cancer risk.
To learn more about the emerging field of environmental health literacy check out the latest PEPH webinar, Environmental Health Literacy: The Evolution of New Field.
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.
Resources for Teaching about Environmental Health
Media-based resources are a great way to get students excited to learn. A diverse collection of resources, developed by WGBH Teacher’s Domain (funded in part by NIEHS), contains videos and supporting educational materials to help K-12 teachers incorporate environmental health into the classroom. Check out the Careers in Environmental Health activity, which introduces students to career opportunities in six environmental health disciplines and teaches them how environmental public health professionals prevent disease, create safe environments, and help the public make healthy decisions. Sign up for free to access this collection of resources on the PBS LearningMedia website.
PEPH Annual Meeting to Focus on Environmental Health Literacy
We are excited to announce that Environmental Health Literacy (EHL) is the central theme for the 2014 PEPH Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held September 22-24 at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The first two days of the meeting will include oral presentations and panel discussions, as well as ample opportunity for small group interactions. The third day will be composed of hands-on workshops related to EHL. Submit a poster abstract by August 8 and register by September 8, 2014. Please register early since space is limited to 150 participants.
PEPH in the Environmental Factor
The July 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:
- Exploring interactions between microbes and environmental exposures. The May PEPH webinar highlighted how the human microbiome responds to environmental exposures, as well as its relationship to environmentally induced disease states.
- Science-ready – enabling public health research during disasters. More than 200 researchers, responders, and planners participated in a June workshop exploring the need for public health research during and after disasters.
- Redesigned Agricultural Health Study (AHS) website launched. The new user-friendly and platform-responsive AHS website is designed to assist study participants and promote use of data.
Duke SRP Updates Wikipedia Page on a Common Flame Retardant
In the latest entry on the Duke Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center blog, ToxInsider, Eileen Thorsos, a member of the Duke SRP Research Translation Core, talks about working with Ph.D. student Laura Dishaw to update Wikipedia and provide the public with sound information on chlorinated tris, a chemical commonly used as a flame retardant in furniture foam. The chlorinated tris Wikipedia page, which originally had just three sentences, now contains reliable information about where the chemical is found in the environment, human exposure routes, health effects, and more. Check out the new and improved Wikipedia page and watch for future posts from the Duke SRP about other Wikipedia updates!
Boston College Faculty Position: Environmental Justice and Social Inequality
The Boston College Graduate School of Social Work is seeking a junior or senior faculty member whose scholarly expertise is in the area of environmental justice and social inequality. The school is especially interested in faculty whose research and teaching have included examining the outcomes of climate change, environmental hazards and disparities, as well as the impact of water discrimination affecting elders, youth, and vulnerable populations. For more information and to apply, visit the job posting.
NACCHO and RESOLVE Fracking Webinar
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has been participating in a multi-stakeholder Working Group convened by RESOLVE to advise the creation of a guidebook on community health and shale development. The goal is for health officials, community members, and industry representatives to use this guidebook to get facts about the potential health issues and where they can go to find more in-depth resources from a variety of perspectives, as well as to learn about options for responding to challenges. Provide your input and help shape the guidebook by participating in the webinar, Shale Development and Communities: Introducing a Guidebook for Health Officials, which will take place Wednesday, August 6, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EDT.
PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series
Schools built on hazardous waste sites? Yes, it really happens. Listen to the podcast, Protecting Children from Contaminants at School, to hear how researchers and community members teamed up to investigate contamination at Rhode Island schools.
EPA/NIEHS Children's Centers Webinar
The August EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar will focus on environmental exposures and neurodevelopmental health outcomes. The webinar will take place Wednesday, August 13, 1:00-2:30 p.m. EDT. Register online.
Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings
- August 19-21, 2014: National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference, co-hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Public Health Information Coalition, is an excellent opportunity to meet with colleagues and shape the future of health communication, marketing, and media practice.
- September 8-10, 2014: Latin American Conference on Compatible Mining: Protecting Vulnerable Populations and the Surrounding Environment in San Luis Potosí, México. The goal of this conference is to assemble an international group of experts, government officials, non-governmental organizations, and community and industry leaders to discuss how to implement compatible mining appropriate to the needs and perspectives of vulnerable populations and the surrounding environment. The University of Arizona Superfund Research Program is co-hosting the conference.
- September 22-24, 2014: PEPH Annual Meeting on the NIEHS main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This year’s theme is “Communication Research in Environmental Health Sciences: Environmental Health Literacy.” Submit a poster abstract by August 8 and register by September 8, 2014.
- October 5-9, 2014: Eighth International PCB Workshop: PCBs in Schools, Exposures, Effects, Remediation and Regulation. in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. A primary objective of the PCB Workshops is to provide a unique, single forum for experts on issues of analysis, fate and transport, exposure assessment, metabolism and disposition, toxicity, and public health policy to come together and learn from each other.
- October 6-8, 2014: NIEHS WTP 2014 Fall Awardee Meeting and Workshop on the NIEHS main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The NIEHS Worker Training Program’s (WTP) awardee meeting and workshop will focus on the serious health risks that workers in various industries will face as the consequences of climate change become more prominent. Register by September 12, 2014.
- October 26-29, 2014: PPTOX IV in Boston, Massachusetts. PPTOX IV hosts the world’s leading experts in endocrinology, toxicology, and environmental health. One conference goal is to identify implications for public health and clinical medicine in building research agenda consensus for the next five years. See the draft program for information on conference sessions.
- November 3-4, 2014: Health Literacy Research Conference in Bethesda, Maryland. This is an interdisciplinary meeting for investigators dedicated to health literacy research. It is an opportunity to advance the field of health literacy, a method to raise the quality of our research, and a venue for professional development.
- November 12-14, 2014: Save the date for the 2014 Superfund Research Program Annual Meeting 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 later this summer.
- December 1-3, 2014: 2014 National Institute on Minority Health & 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. The abstract submission deadline is September 11, 2014.