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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News September 2014

Volume 5, Issue 9: September 2014

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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.

An EJSI student uses a monitoring device to measure noise pollution levels as a plane pass by
An EJSI student uses a monitoring device to measure noise pollution levels as planes pass by to land at the Los Angeles International Airport.

PEPH Annual Meeting Just a Few Weeks Away!

The 2014 PEPH Annual Meeting is just around the corner! This year’s meeting will be held September 22-24 at NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and will focus on environmental health literacy. The conference will include oral presentations, panel discussions, and a full day of hands-on workshops. Register for the meeting by September 8, 2014. If you can’t attend in person, organize a Watch Party and watch session presentations live via webcast! Local PEPH stakeholders and grantees can follow along as the meeting takes place and even contribute through social media. When the meeting breaks for discussion, we encourage you to address discussion topics amongst yourselves – just like the conference attendees. Visit the Watch Party Web page for more information to organize a Watch Party in your city.

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:

When Pollution is Personal – Resources for Reporting Results to Participants

Should researchers report results to study participants when sources of exposure, health effects, and exposure reduction strategies are unclear? NIEHS-funded researchers from the Silent Spring Institute and partners at Northeastern, UC Berkeley, and Commonweal recently released a Report-back Handbook  and article  with best practices to help scientists navigate situations when study results might generate worry. The group interviewed study participants, researchers, and institutional review boards and found that reporting results along with interpretive context can educate study participants about environmental health and motivate them to take actions to reduce their exposures. Check out the new article, published in the journal Environmental Health, and handbook for guidance on thoughtful and effective report-back principles.

Climate Change Modules for Nurses

Educating nurses about the health risks associated with heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and flooding prepares them for the adverse health impacts associated with climate change. To address this emerging need, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments recently released a set of continuing education modules on climate change. The course, Advancing Clean Air, Climate, and Health: Opportunities for Nurses,  consists of a workbook and Web-based media modules designed for public and environmental health nurses who are interested in learning about the science of climate change, public health impacts, and how they can effectively advocate for clean energy policies. Nurses who complete the workbook, videos, and post-test and evaluation will receive 3 nurse continuing education credits; the first 250 nurses to successfully complete the course will receive the credits for free!

Putting it into Practice: Pediatric Environmental Health Resource

Incorporating pediatric environmental health into medical curricula is an important step to raise awareness of environmental health issues among physicians and nurses. The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) has developed a training resource  to help instructors teach pediatric environmental health to students, residents, or colleagues. The “Putting it into Practice” training resource consists of 12 PowerPoint modules that cover a range of environmental health topics, including air pollution, lead poisoning, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, and much more. Each module comes with a user’s guide, containing information on additional resources, possible discussion questions, suggested assignments, and other tips to help teachers incorporate pediatric environmental health into their programs.

Working Group Makes Fracking Research Recommendations

Since 2012, a network of NIEHS-funded researchers have been interacting on a regular basis to address what is known, and unknown, about the public health impacts of unconventional natural gas drilling operations (UNGDO), or fracking. The goal of the Working Group, which was made up of 16 of the 21 NIEHS-funded Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers, was to review the literature on the potential public health impacts of UNGDO and make recommendations for future research. Their conclusions and recommendations were recently published  in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The expert panel’s conclusions – that potential water and air pollution might endanger public health and that groundwater and air quality should be tested before, during, and after natural gas drilling – are similar to those proposed by other groups with one significant difference: they advocate that future studies use community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches. Community engagement is essential to successfully address environmental health disparities, understand public risk perception, and disseminate research findings, advises the Group. Read the article  for an in-depth look at the Working Group’s findings and research recommendations.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

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Some people think that the practice of fracking will help provide for energy security. Others are concerned about the environment. Increasingly, there are people who are worried about how fracking might affect their health and safety. In the Impacts of Fracking podcast, we talk about the science of fracking, what we do—and don’t—know about its impacts, and how Health Impact Assessments could be used as an approach to identify how drilling might affect community members.

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

EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar

The September EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar will focus on environmental exposures in the home. The webinar will take place Wednesday, September 10, 1:00-2:30 p.m. EDT. Register online 

Upcoming PEPH-Related Meetings

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 a range of stakeholders 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: 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.”  Register by September 8, 2014 or organize a Watch Party to participate remotely.

October 5-9, 2014: Eighth International PCB Workshop: PCBs in Schools, Exposures, Effects, Remediation and Regulation  in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The workshop will provide a forum for experts to coordinate and collaborate on issues of analysis, fate and transport, exposure assessment, metabolism and disposition, toxicity, and public health policy.

October 6-8, 2014: NIEHS Worker Training Program 2014 Fall Awardee Meeting and Workshop on the NIEHS main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This event will focus on the serious health risks that workers will experience in the face of climate change. 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. See the 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.

November 12-14, 2014: 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” document 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 US 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 October 17, 2014.

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.

Funding Opportunities

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

Superfund Hazardous Substance Research and Training Program  (P42). Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center grants will support research Centers that consist of multiple, integrated projects representing both the biomedical and environmental science and engineering disciplines, as well as cores tasked with administrative, community engagement, research translation, training, and research support functions. Deadline: September 3, 2014. Please also see the accompanying notice. 

Air, Climate and Energy (ACE) Centers: Science Supporting Solutions  EPA is interested in supporting research on the development of sound science to inform policymakers regarding the development of innovative approaches to enable effective implementation of air pollution control strategies. Deadline: September 4, 2014.

Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities  The EPA, as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications that create knowledge to empower communities and individuals to take action to avoid air pollution exposure, using low-cost portable air pollution sensors. Deadline: October 7, 2014.

Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowships in Public Health.  This fellowship is to promote the expansion of research in public health and clinical research in resource-limited settings. Deadline: October 14, 2014.

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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