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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News January 2015

Volume 1, Issue 1: January 2015

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BCERP Researchers Featured on NPR’s Fresh Air

The New Puberty - How to navigate early development in today's girls by Louise Greenspan, M.D., and Julianna Deardorff, Ph.D.
Drs. Deardorff and Greenspan recently spoke on NPR's Fresh Air about their new book, The New Puberty (above), in which they examine the trend of girls entering puberty earlier than their counterparts several decades ago and what this means for young girls and their families.
(Photo courtesy of Rodale Books)

In a recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, NIEHS-funded researchers Julianna Deardorff, Ph.D., and Louise Greenspan, M.D., discussed how the environment may be driving the trend of today’s girls starting puberty earlier than girls several decades ago. The causes and consequences of early puberty is the topic of their new book, The New Puberty, in which Deardorff and Greenspan draw upon their research and clinical experience to explain the shift toward earlier puberty and offer practical strategies families can use to help prevent and manage early puberty.

“The dramatic shift towards earlier puberty in the U.S. has important potential health consequences at the population level,” explained Deardorff, who is an associate professor of maternal and child health at the University of California (UC) Berkeley School of Public Health. “Girls’ early puberty has been linked to a number of deleterious outcomes across the life course, including elevated risk for emotional and behavioral problems during adolescence, as well as long-term health issues in adulthood, such as breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.”

During the Fresh Air interview, Deardorff and Greenspan described the trend of early puberty and some of the environmental chemicals that may alter the timing of girls’ puberty. According to Greenspan, a significant number of girls today are showing signs of early breast development at 7 years old. Just a generation ago, less than 5 percent of girls started puberty before the age of 8. Deardorff and Greenspan also discussed the potential role of environmental chemicals, including bisphenol A, flame retardants, and organophosphate pesticides, in shifting the timing of puberty. Explaining that the science is still out on the health effects of these chemicals in humans, they go on to encourage people to limit their exposure and find safer alternatives to certain chemicals found in personal care and household products.

“The reason we wrote this book was to provide the lay audience with the information we had learned as scientists and researchers. For example, few people understand the concept of the Precautionary Principle. In the book, we explain this idea and also provide the tools for parents to be able to make more educated decisions in order to reduce exposures, when possible,” explained Greenspan, an associate clinical professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

Deardorff and Greenspan are co-investigators in the Cohort of Young Girls’ Nutrition, Environment, and Transitions (CYGNET) study, a long-term study of puberty led by Lawrence Kushi, Sc.D. Co-funded by the NIEHS and the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), CYGNET followed 444 girls from the San Francisco Bay area since 2005, when the girls were 6 to 8 years old, to determine how environmental, genetic, lifestyle, and psychosocial factors may contribute to early puberty.

Listen to the full Fresh Air interview to hear Deardorff and Greenspan talk about the environmental, biological, and socioeconomic factors at play in the trend of early puberty. And be sure to check out their new book, The New Puberty!

PEPH Grantee Highlights

This month, we are pleased to share with you the stories of two of our PEPH colleagues, Anna Hoover and Paul English. Look below for a brief overview of their work and visit the PEPH Grantee Highlights Web page to learn more about Hoover, English, and other PEPH colleagues.

  • Anna Hoover, Ph.D.
    Anna Hoover, Ph.D., is the Communications Director and Research Translation Core (RTC) co-lead for the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center. Her role in the RTC often involves working with people from many university departments to ensure that everyone’s information needs – including those of community and government stakeholders – are met. She is also deputy director for the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program office. Read the Anna Hoover PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about her research translation efforts.
  • Paul English, Ph.D.
    Paul English, Ph.D., is an environmental epidemiologist who for the last ten years has served as principal investigator of the California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP), which takes a community-based approach to developing surveillance and biomonitoring systems for environmental hazards. English seeks to address problems related to both income disparities and health disparities, which he believes run parallel. Specifically, his work focuses on the public health impacts of climate change, environmental links to asthma, and the impacts of pesticides on birth outcomes. Read the Paul English PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about his community-based research projects.

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: 

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Environmental Health Chat logo

For many people, wintertime brings a welcome respite from outdoor allergens like tree pollen. But spending more time inside has its own downsides, if you are sensitive to indoor allergens like dust, mold, and pets. Chronic exposure to indoor allergens can exacerbate health conditions such as asthma, especially among children. In our latest podcast, Controlling Allergens in Your Home, pediatric allergist Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center discusses common indoor allergens and offers tips to improve the air quality in your home.

You can find past podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page, or subscribe to the series on iTunes.

New Resources: Health and Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has become more common in the quest to extract natural gas from reserves across the United States. In a new podcast and factsheet, NIEHS takes a close look at the potential environmental health implications of this practice and what researchers are doing to learn more.

WE ACT’s Healthy Homes Summit Featured in Environmental Justice Journal

The latest issue of the Environmental Justice journal (Volume 7, Number 6, December 2014) features articles from the recent WE ACT Meeting, The NYC Healthy Homes Summit, held November 21 - 22, 2014. Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, WE ACT’s Director of Environmental Health, was guest editor for the issue. The articles feature several of our PEPH colleagues and are free to the public through January 18, 2015. Visit the Environmental Justice Web page to access the articles below:

  • Green & Healthy Homes Initiative: Improving Health, Economic, and Social Outcomes through Integrated Housing Intervention. Ruth Ann Norton and Brendan Wade Brown
  • Partnering to Reduce Environmental Hazards through a Community-Based “Healthy Home Museum”: Education for Action. Katrina Smith Korfmacher and Valerie Garrison
  • One Step at a Time Towards Better Health: Active Design in Affordable Housing. Elizabeth Garland, Kaylan A. Baban, Victoria Garland, Ganga Bey, and Sadie H. Sanchez
  • Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection. Sarah Lott and Jim Vallette
  • Pollution-Free Housing for All: Coalition-Based Research, Education, and Advocacy for Healthier Housing in Transportation and Land Use Planning in the San Francisco Bay Area. Catalina Garzón, Will Dominie, and Margaret Gordon

EPA’s Framework for Integrating Community into the Superfund Reuse Assessment Process

Check out EPA’s pilot framework for integrating health, prevention, and wellness considerations into the Superfund reuse assessment process. The framework includes suggested community discussion questions, a set of health and wellness indicators, suggestions for mapping health and wellness features at the neighborhood scale, considerations for site suitability and a case study example to illustrate the process. It also includes information on data sources, funding programs, and other resources to assist in the process. This framework may be useful for local government, community organizations, and community members who are considering future use for a Superfund site.

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 (CSA). Citizen science participants, researchers, project leaders, educators, technology specialists, evaluators, and others will gather to help move the field forward.

February 27, 2015: 36th Annual Minority Health Conference at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. This year’s conference will focus on the impact of socioeconomic factors on minority health, with an emphasis on health disparities in the aftermath of the recession. The conference will highlight recent research and best practices for advancing minority health by creating opportunities for mobility in the present period of economic recovery.

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.

May 26 - July 31, 2015: Future Public Health Leaders Program (FPHLP) at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The FPHLP is a 10-week residential summer program that encourages underrepresented college students to consider careers in public health. The program includes public health and career mentorship, hands-on and practical field experience, seminars, lectures, and workshops with public health leaders. Applications are due by January 31, 2015.

August 10 - 13, 2015: Save the date for the 16th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium, in Depok, Indonesia! Traditional areas covered by PBC conferences include hazardous waste management and remediation, e-waste, air pollution, persistent toxic substances, emerging pollutants, global climate change, and children’s environmental health. See the 2015 Preliminary Program for information on session topics.

Funding Opportunities

Visit the PEPH Funding Opportunity Announcements page for more PEPH-related funding opportunities.

Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (P50). This FOA encourages grant applications to support Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research to stimulate basic and applied research on environmental health disparities. The proposed research is expected to develop innovative approaches to understand environmentally-driven health disparities and improve access to healthy environments for vulnerable populations and communities. The proposed Centers are expected to support research efforts, mentoring, research translation, and information dissemination. Deadline: January 13, 2015.

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award (R01). The Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award is intended to identify the most talented Early Stage Investigators who intend to make a long-term commitment to research in the Environmental Health Sciences and assist them in launching an innovative research program focused on the understanding of environmental exposure effects on people’s health. Deadlines: January 27, 2015 (letter of intent); February 27, 2015 (application).

Environmental Influences during Windows of Susceptibility in Breast Cancer Risk (U01). This funding opportunity will support transdisciplinary research projects to investigate the influence of environmental exposures during specific time windows of susceptibility on breast cancer risk. In addition to a transdisciplinary research project, applications must also include community-academic partnerships with defined community engagement activities. Deadline: January 28, 2015.

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training. EPA is soliciting proposals from eligible entities, including nonprofit organizations, to deliver environmental workforce development and job training programs that recruit, train, and place local, unemployed and under-employed residents with the skills needed to secure full-time employment in the environmental field, with a focus on solid and hazardous waste remediation, environmental health and safety, and wastewater-related training. Deadline: February 3, 2015.

Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R01, R03, R21). The goal of this program announcement is to encourage methodological, intervention, and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy. Deadlines: February 5, 2015 (R01); February 16, 2015 (R03, R21). Learn more about NIEHS areas of interest.

CDC’s Summer Program in Environmental Health (SUPEH). SUPEH is a paid 10-week internship program for undergraduate students majoring in environmental health. Interns participate in activities with the Environmental Health Services Branch of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, where they gain environmental health experience and an understanding of environmental health work at the local, state, tribal, and federal levels. Deadline: February 11, 2015.

Addressing Health Disparities in Maternal and Child Health through Community-Based Participatory Research (R03). This FOA supports community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects planned and developed by recipients of the Phase I Academic-Community Partnerships Conference Series awards under PAR-09-092 and PAR-12-102. Deadlines: February 26, 2015; a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.

Interventions for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Native American Populations (R01). The purpose of this FOA is to develop, adapt, and test the effectiveness of health promotion and disease prevention interventions in Native American populations. Deadline: May 12, 2015 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.

Do you have an announcement to share with the PEPH community? Send us your news for the next issue of the PEPH Newsletter ( peph@niehs.nih.gov ).
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