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.
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.
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.
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 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:
- Compatible mining to protect vulnerable populations and the environment . An NIEHS-supported international conference set up a regional hub to promote mining practices compatible with human health, the environment, and local culture.
- Oregon State University Superfund program completes pilot assistance project . Curriculum on mercury and environmental health is the first product of a program to assist communities affected by Superfund sites.
PEPH Grantee Highlight: John Sullivan
John Sullivan never expected he would have a career in the field of environmental health. He is trained in the arts. When he learned that the NIEHS-funded Center in Environmental Toxicology (CET) at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) was interested in using theatre to educate local communities, he saw an opportunity to use his background to help people understand the science behind the issues that were affecting their health and quality of life. Sullivan is now director of the Public Forum and Toxics Assistance (Division 3) within the CET’s Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC). He has used theatre techniques to help communities understand topics such as hazardous air pollutants, lead poisoning, and environmental asthma triggers. Visit the PEPH Grantee Highlight Web page to read more about Sullivan’s unique approach to community involvement.
PEPH Grantee Annie Belcourt Named Harvard JPB Environmental Health Fellow
We are pleased to announce that PEPH grantee Annie Belcourt, Ph.D., from the University of Montana (UM) was recently named a Harvard JPB Environmental Health Fellow . The multi-year fellowship program supports junior faculty engaged in research to address environmental health disparities in disadvantaged communities. Unlike other fellowship programs, Belcourt will remain at UM while attending multiple advanced training sessions with Harvard School of Public Health faculty. Funding from the fellowship will allow Belcourt to continue researching tribal populations in Montana and develop new collaborative research projects. Check out Belcourt’s PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about her research to reduce Native American environmental health disparities.
PEPH-Related Job Announcements
- USC Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine: The Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California invites applications for a tenure-track assistant or associate professor position in environmental epidemiology to help develop a new research program on environmental determinants of obesity and metabolic disease. The successful faculty candidate is expected to bring or develop an externally funded research program. Faculty candidates should have at least completed postdoctoral training or equivalent and have a demonstrated publication record and accomplishments within the field of environmental health commensurate with stage of career. See the job posting for more information.
- OSU Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health: Oregon State University invites applications for a full-time, 9-month tenure-track appointment for Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health. Required qualifications include a doctoral degree in an Occupational or Public Health or related discipline. Applicants may apply prior to completing their doctorate, but must have earned a Ph.D. by the start date of employment. Candidates must have an established research program supported by extramural funding (or demonstrated potential to develop such a program) and peer-reviewed publications. For full consideration, apply by January 15, 2015. The anticipated start date is September 16, 2015. See the job posting for more information and to apply; posting # 0013086.
Inaugural Citizen Science Conference
The PEPH Network embraces citizen science as an approach to engage communities in environmental health research. At Citizen Science 2015 , February 11-12, 2015 in San Jose, California, we can join people from across the field to discuss designing, implementing, sustaining, evaluating, and participating in projects. Some of our PEPH colleagues are already signed up to participate at the meeting! Check out the PEPH-related sessions below and let us know if you will be presenting at Citizen Science 2015. And remember to use the conference hashtag – #CitSci2015 – to share conference news!
- Engaging citizen scientists in emerging environmental threats and disasters - Presented by Aubrey Miller (NIEHS), Liam O’Fallon (NIEHS), Chip Hughes (NIEHS), Erin Haynes (University of Cincinnati), and Kim Anderson (Oregon State University).
- Using a citizen science approach to change the face of environmental public health research - Presented by Monica Ramirez-Andreotta (Northeastern University), Sara Wylie (Northeastern University), Liam O’Fallon (NIEHS), and Symma Finn (NIEHS).
PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series
Tracking pollutants and investigating their health impacts requires expensive equipment and years of specialized training…or does it? In the Citizen Science podcast we take 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.
EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar
The November EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar will focus on endocrine disruptors and children’s health. The webinar will take place Wednesday, November 12, 1:00-2:30 p.m. EST. Register online .
Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings
- 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.” We will send out the “PEPH at APHA” booklet in early November to help you navigate the conference.
- November 19-21, 2014: Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. 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.
- 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 December 1, 2014.
- February 11-12, 2015: Registration is now open for 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.