Implementation Highlights and Accomplishments
Identify and respond to emerging environmental threats to human health, on both a local and global scale.
- Enlist the capacity of the environmental health science (EHS) research enterprise to elucidate information necessary for timely and effective public health action.
- Act proactively with other public health partners to provide appropriate responses to emerging environmental threats, both natural and man-made.
- Focus on research needs to help inform policy responses in public health situations in which lack of knowledge hampers policymaking, e.g., health effects of exposures related to hydrofracking or climate change, or exposures to engineered nanomaterials.
Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21)
This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is intended to support environmental health research in which an unpredictable event provides a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data. The primary motivation of the FOA is to understand the consequences of natural and man-made disasters or emerging environmental public health threats in the U.S. and abroad. A distinguishing feature of an appropriate study is the need for rapid review and funding (substantially shorter than the typical NIH grant review/award cycle) in order for the research question to be addressed and swiftly implemented. RFA-ES-16-005
Superfund Hazardous Substance Research and Training Program (P42)
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is announcing the continuation of the Superfund Hazardous Substance Research and Training Program, referred to as Superfund Research Program (SRP) Centers. SRP Center grants will support problem-based, solution-oriented 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. The scope of the SRP Centers is taken directly from the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, and includes: (1) advanced techniques for the detection, assessment, and evaluation of the effect on human health of hazardous substances; (2) methods to assess the risks to human health presented by hazardous substances; (3) methods and technologies to detect hazardous substances in the environment; and (4) basic biological, chemical, and physical methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous substances. RFA-ES-15-019
Worker Training Program (WTP) Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training (UH4)
The NIEHS WTP Ebola Biosafety Training and Infectious Disease Response Initiative – developed in partnership with CDC, HHS, ASPR, OSHA, and NIOSH – invites applications for cooperative agreements to support the development and implementation of occupational safety and health and infection control training programs for workers who may be at risk during infectious disease outbreaks. The major objective of this funding opportunity is to assist in the training and education of workers within the US in understanding how infectious diseases with varying transmissibility, incubation periods and clinical outcome are spread in an occupational environment and what measures can be taken to shield workers from potential exposure. RFA-ES-15-018
Superfund Research Program Occupational and Safety Education Programs on Emerging Technologies (R25)
The over-arching goal of this Superfund Research Program (SRP) Occupational and Safety Education Programs on Emerging Technologies is to support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs. The intent of this FOA is to provide Higher Education Institutions the opportunity to develop continuing education and academic curricula on the occupational health and safety management practices in the areas of emerging technologies (e.g., emerging hazardous waste products, green chemistry, sustainable remediation, and detection technologies) to industrial hygienists and graduate students involved in the research, evaluation, management, and handling of hazardous substances. RFA-ES-15-014
Nanomaterials Health Implications Research (NHIR): Comprehensive Evaluation of Interactions between Engineered Nanomaterials and Biological System (U01)
The interaction of Engineered Nanomaterials (ENMs) and biological systems is guided by their material properties; thousands of ENMs have been generated with subtle changes in these physicochemical properties. Developing comprehensive biological response profiles for a large number of ENMs present in diverse nanoenabled products is a difficult task. The NIEHS Nanotechnology Health Implications Research (NHIR) program is being established to gain a better understanding of ENMs-biological interactions to guide development of benign ENMs and support safe and sustainable use of nanotechnology. ES-15-013
Nanomaterials Health Implications Research (NHIR): Engineered Nanomaterials Resource and Coordination Core (U24)
Nanotechnology, once restricted to 'clean rooms,' has become a major industry generating thousands of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) that are incorporated into everyday products ranging from personal care products to packaging, construction, water filtration, and children's clothes and toys. This widespread production and use of ENMs present opportunities for unintended human exposure, while their impact on biological systems is not clearly understood. To address these concerns, the NIEHS initiated a nanotechnology environmental health and safety (Nano EHS) program in 2004 and participated in national efforts through the National Nanotechnology Initiative Environmental, Health, and Safety (NNI EHS) Research Strategy (http://www.nano.gov/nni-pca).
The overarching goal of the NIEHS Nano EHS program is to gain a fundamental understanding of the molecular and pathological pathways involved in mediating the response to ENMs. Towards this goal, comprehensive profiles are needed to gain detailed molecular understanding of the interactions between ENM and biological systems. Such knowledge will in turn allow in silico hazard assessment of ENMs and guide the development of benign, next generation, ENMs. ES-15-012
Hazmat Training at DOE Nuclear Weapons Complex (UH4)
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) invites applications for cooperative agreements to support the development of model programs for the training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation and emergency response within the Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Weapons Complex.
The major objective of this funding opportunity announcement is to prevent work-related harm by assisting in the training and education of workers in the DOE nuclear weapons complex. Safety and health training will transmit skills and knowledge to workers in how best to protect themselves and their communities from exposure to hazardous materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, facility decommissioning and decontamination, hazardous materials transportation, environmental restoration of contaminated facilities or chemical emergency response RFA-ES-14-009
Hazardous Materials Worker Health and Safety Training (U45)
This FOA issued by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) invites applications for cooperative agreements to support the development of model programs for the training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation and emergency response. The major objective of this FOA is to prevent work-related harm by assisting in the training of workers in how best to protect themselves and their communities from exposure to hazardous materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, hazardous materials transportation, environmental restoration of contaminated facilities or chemical emergency response. RFA-ES-14-008
Hazardous Materials Worker Health and Safety Training (U45) Administrative Supplements for Hurricane Sandy Response and Recovery (Admin Supp)
This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) invites current grantees under the cooperative agreements to support the development of model programs for the training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation and emergency response. With the major objective to prevent work-related harm by assisting in the training of workers in how best to protect themselves and their communities from exposure to hazardous materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, hazardous materials transportation, and environmental restoration of contaminated facilities or chemical emergency response as authorized under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986. This supplement funded from the HHS Programs for Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, P.L. 113-2 is to provide safety training to support recovery, rebuilding and resilience in preparing for current and potential future disasters within areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy, specifically to FEMA declared major disaster states. RFA-ES-13-008
Selected Programs and Awards
HHS Green Champion Awards
The NIH NIEHS Climate Resilience Planning Team, consisting of Mitch Williams, Jeffery Church, Bill Steinmetz, Paul Johnson, won a 2017 HHS Green Champion Award for exemplary performance and leadership in identifying vulnerabilities, determining impacts and stakeholders, and developing resilience measures for changes in overall climate.
2016 Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Awardee Cheryl Rockwell, Ph.D., of Michigan State University, will study how the food additive tert-butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, promotes allergies, in order to identify similar environmental chemicals that may affect the immune system.
NIH High Risk-High Reward Awards
Donna Spiegelman, D.Sc., NIEHS grantee at the Harvard School of Public Health, won a Pioneer Award for Comprehensive Translational Science Analytics Tools for the Global Health Agenda for her work to advance the field of implementation science—an area of research that seeks to establish, through rigorous quantitative methods, which public health interventions, directed at achieving the same goal, are most effective in the real world.
Perry Hystad, Ph.D., NIEHS grantee at Oregon State University won an Early Independence Award for PURE-AIR: A Global Assessment of Air Pollution and Cardiopulmonary Disease, spatial exposure assessment methods to determine the chronic health effects associated with exposure to air pollution, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer, that differ between populations in different locations.
Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES) A new grant from NIEHS will allow researchers to study how exposures to stressors that are prevalent in the urban industrialized environment impact human health in Detroit and beyond. The grant, awarded to Wayne State University, is one of 21 Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers funded by NIEHS. The new Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES) includes collaborators at Henry Ford Health System, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University, as well as community organizations. CURES places special emphasis on understanding how environmental exposures, during life windows of heightened susceptibility, can adversely affect health, particularly in vulnerable persons, such as children and adults of low socioeconomic status, older adults, first responders, and refugees. The center emphasizes broad interactions with the public, as well as leaders of advocacy, community, and government organizations dealing with the environment and health.
Workshops and Conferences
- Trans-Federal Workshop on Extreme Events, Environmental Health, and the Elderly
- Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Offshore Oil and Gas Spills: A Workshop on Research Needs to Protect the Health and Well-being of Communities
- Engaging Diverse Partners: Strategies to Address Environmental Public Health: A Joint NIEHS Meeting of the Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) Network and Disaster Research Response (DR2) Program
- NIEHS Worker Training Program: 2017 Fall Awardee Meeting and Workshop
- Exploring Telomeres as Sentinels for Environmental and Psychosocial Stress and Susceptibility Workshop
- Pacific Basin Consortium Conference
- Superfund Research Program (SRP) 30th Anniversary Conference
- US Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) Society
- Environment and Health: What’s the Human Microbiome Have to Do with It?
- Personal Environmental Exposure Measurements: Making Sense and Making Use of Emerging Capabilities
- Modeling the Health Risks of Climate Change
- Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative Environmental Health Summit
- Central and Eastern European Conference on Health and the Environment
- Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia Meeting
- Addressing Challenges in the Assessment of Botanical Dietary Supplement Safety
- Responding to Emerging Health Threats Through Research and Training
- NIEHS Best Practices Working Group for Special IRB Considerations in the Review of Disaster Related Research Inaugural Meeting
- Climate Justice Conference
- Expert Consultation on the Effects of Climate Change on Children’s Health
- Latin American Conference on Compatible Mining: Protecting Vulnerable Populations and the Surrounding Environment
- Modeling the Health Risks of Climate Change
- NanoHealth and Safety Research Consortium
- NIEHS Environmental Health Science FEST, December 5 – 8, 2016
- Public Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing
- Symposium on Assessing Exposures and Health Effects Related to Indoor Biomass Fuel Burning
- The Interplay Between Environmental Exposures and Obesity
- WHO-NIEHS Global Meeting on e-Waste
- Workers and Climate Change
Selected Scientific Advances
Levine H, Jørgensen N, Martino-Andrade A, Mendiola J, Weksler-Derri D, Mindlis I, Pinotti R, Swan S. 2017. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Hum Rep Update 23(6):646-659. [Abstract]
The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-regression analysis of recent trends in sperm counts as measured by sperm concentration and total sperm count, and their modification by fertility and geographic group. The authors report a significant decline in sperm counts between 1973 and 2011.
Di Q, Dai L, Wang Y, Zanobetti A, Choirat C, Schwartz JD, Dominici F. 2017. Association of Short-term Exposure to Air Pollution With Mortality in Older Adults. JAMA 318(24):2446-2456. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.17923. [Abstract]
The goal of this study was to estimate the association between short-term exposures to ambient fine particulate matter and ozone, at levels below the current daily National Ambient Air Quality Standards, and mortality in the continental United States.
Nigra AE, Sanchez TR, Nachman KE, Harvey D, Chillrud SN, Graziano JH, Navas-Acien A. 2017. The effect of the Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant level on arsenic exposure in the USA from 2003 to 2014: an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Lancet Public Health. 2(11):e513-e521. [Abstract]
This study evaluated national trends in water arsenic exposure in the US, hypothesizing that urinary arsenic levels would decrease over time among participants using public water systems but not among those using well water. Additionally, the researchers estimated the expected number of avoided lung, bladder, and skin cancer cases.
Li DK, Chen H, Ferber JR, Odouli R, Quesenberry C. 2017. Exposure to Magnetic Field Non-Ionizing Radiation and the Risk of Miscarriage: A Prospective Cohort Study. Sci Rep 7(1):17541. [Abstract]
This prospective cohort study of 913 pregnant women examined the association between high magnetic field non-ionizing radiation exposure and miscarriage risk.
Boyles AL (DNTP), Blain RB, Rochester JR, Avanasi R, Goldhaber SB, McComb S, Holmgren SD (DNTP), Masten SA (DNTP), Thayer KA (DNTP). 2017. Systematic review of community health impacts of mountaintop removal mining. Environment international 107:163-172. [Abstract]
The objective of this evaluation is to understand the human health impacts of mountaintop removal (MTR) mining, the major method of coal mining in and around Central Appalachia. This systematic review could not reach conclusions on community health effects of MTR mining because of the strong potential for bias in the current body of human literature.
Hoover J, Gonzales M, Shuey C, Barney Y, Lewis J. 2017. Elevated Arsenic and Uranium Concentrations in Unregulated Water Sources on the Navajo Nation, USA. Expo Health 9(2):113-124. Epub 2016 Aug 23. [Abstract]
Using censored data analysis and mapping techniques study investigators analyzed the joint geospatial distribution of arsenic and uranium in unregulated water sources throughout the Navajo Nation, where over 500 abandoned uranium mine sites are located in the rural southwestern United States. Results indicated that arsenic and uranium concentrations exceeded national drinking water standards in 15.1 % (arsenic) and 12.8 % (uranium) of tested water sources.
Stueckle TA, DC Davidson, R Derk, TG Kornberg, D Schwegler-Berry, SV Pirela, G Deloid, P Demokritou, S Luanpitpong, Y Rojanasakul and L Wang. 2017. Evaluation of tumorigenic potential of CeO2 and Fe2O3 engineered nanoparticles by a human cell in vitro screening model. NanoImpact 6:39-54. [Abstract]
This study investigated and compared bio-effects of long-term (10 weeks) in vitro exposure of cerium oxide and ferric oxide vs. multi-walled carbon nanotubes in human primary small airway epithelial cells.
Ferrucio B, M Tiago, RD Fannin (DIR), L Liu (DIR), K Gerrish (DIR), SS Maria-Engler, RS Paules (NTP) and SB de Moraes Barros. 2016. Molecular effects of 1-naphthyl-methylcarbamate and solar radiation exposures on human melanocytes. Toxicol In Vitro 38:67-76. [Abstract]
This study aimed to characterize human melanocytes after individual or combined exposure to carbaryl (100 μM) and solar radiation (375 mJ/cm2).
Hu XC, Andrews DQ, Lindstrom AB, Bruton TA, Schaider LA, Grandjean P, Lohmann R, Carignan CC, Blum A, Balan SA, Higgins CP, Sunderland EM. 2016. Detection of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in U.S. Drinking Water Linked to Industrial Sites, Military Fire Training Areas, and Wastewater Treatment Plants. Environ Sci Technol Lett 3(10):344-350. [Abstract]
Morgan, DL (DNTP), Jokinen, MP, Johnson, CL, Price, HC, Gwinn, WM (DNTP), Bousquet, RW, Flake, GP (DNTP). 2016. Chemical reactivity and respiratory toxicity of the alpha-diketone flavoring agents: 2,3-butanedione, 2,3-pentanedione, and 2,3-hexanedione. Toxicol Pathol 44(5):763-783. [Abstract]
Nayak AP, Green BJ, Lemons AR, Marshall NB, Goldsmith WT, Kashon ML, Anderson SE, Germolec DR (DNTP), Beezhold DH. 2016. Subchronic exposures to fungal bioaerosols promotes allergic pulmonary inflammation in naive mice. Clin Exp Allergy 46(6):861-70. [Abstract]
Gerona RR, Pan J, Zota AR, Schwartz JM, Friesen M, Taylor JA, Hunt PA, Woodruff TJ. 2016. Direct measurement of Bisphenol A (BPA), BPA glucuronide and BPA sulfate in a diverse and low-income population of pregnant women reveals high exposure, with potential implications for previous exposure estimates: a cross-sectional study. Environ Health 15(1):50. [Abstract]
Zota AR, Phillips CA, Mitro SD. 2016. Recent Fast Food Consumption and Bisphenol A and Phthalates Exposures among the U.S. Population in NHANES, 2003-2010. Environ Health Perspect 124(10):1521-1528. [Abstract]
Allen JG, Flanigan SS, LeBlanc M, Vallarino J, MacNaughton P, Stewart JH, Christiani DC. 2015. Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes. Environ Health Perspect 124(6):733-9. [Abstract]
Lowe SR, Kwok RK (DIR), Payne J, Engel LS (DIR), Galea S, Sandler DP (DIR). 2015. Mental health service use by cleanup workers in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Soc Sci Med 130:125-34. [Abstract]
The NIEHS GuLF STUDY identified predictors of counseling and medication use in 8,931 cleanup workers after the Deepwater Horizon Spill that may provide insight into prevention and treatment of mental health outcomes for disaster response workers.
Paulik LB, Donald CE, Smith BW, Tidwell LG, Hobbie KA, Kincl L, Haynes EN, Anderson KA. 2015. Impact of Natural Gas Extraction on PAH Levels in Ambient Air. Environ Sci Technol 49(8):5203-10. [Abstract]
Researchers deployed passive air samplers in a rural community heavily affected by fracking to analyze 62 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and found levels an order of magnitude higher than levels previously reported in rural areas, with the highest levels being closest to active wells. Quantitative human health risk assessments showed levels closest to active wells exceed the EPA’s acceptable risk level, suggesting fracking may have higher than acceptable risk to human health and this increases as proximity to an active well increases.
Carignan CC, Cottingham KL, Jackson BP, Farzan SF, Gandolfi AJ, Punshon T, Folt CL, Karagas MR. 2015. Estimated exposure to arsenic in breastfed and formula-fed infants in a United States cohort. Environ Health Perspect 123(5):500-6. [Abstract]
Scientists studied a small subset (72) of the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study to assess arsenic exposure in breastfed vs. formula fed infants and found urinary arsenic concentrations were lowest in exclusively breast fed infants and highest in exclusively formula-fed infants, even when drinking-water arsenic concentrations were low, suggesting formula powder may be another source of arsenic exposure and further supporting public health initiatives to promote breastfeeding.
Nazarenko Y, Lioy PJ, Mainelis G. 2014. Quantitative assessment of inhalation exposure and deposited dose of aerosol from nanotechnology-based consumer sprays. Environ Sci Nano 1(2):161-171. [Abstract]
This work used quantitative exposure assessment for consumer product sprays containing nanomaterials and found, in contrast to cosmetic powders, consumer spray products release aerosol particles of various size fractions and the release of particles in the nanosized fraction was detected in all consumer product sprays tested. Furthermore, this work suggested measuring the size distributions of aerosols created is not sufficient to predict or assess exposure and found nanomaterials in some products were not labeled accordingly or were labeled, but did not contain nanomaterials.
Yueh M-F, Taniguchi K, Chen S, Evans RM, Hammock BD, Karin M, and Tukey RH. 2014. The commonly used antimicrobial additive triclosan is a liver tumor promoter. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111(48):17200-17205. [Abstract]
Scientists found triclosan, a widely used chemical found in daily care products, produced adverse health effects after long-term exposures in mice suggesting human toxicity should be assessed and triclosan removed from high volume products.
Waalkes MP (NTP), Qu W (NTP), Tokar EJ (NTP), Kissling GE (DIR), Dixon D (NTP). 2014. Lung tumors in mice induced by "whole-life" inorganic arsenic exposure at human-relevant doses. Arch Toxicol 88(8):1619-29. [Abstract]
This was the first study to show tumors develop in animals exposed to similar levels of inorganic arsenic as humans might be exposed to. Inorganic arsenic often occurs in excess in drinking water.
Liu J, Liu X, Wang W, McCauley L, Pinto-Martin J, Wang Y, Li L, Yan C, Rogan WJ (DIR). 2014. Blood lead concentrations and children's behavioral and emotional problems: A Cohort Study. JAMA Pediatr 168(8):737-45. [Abstract]
Research indicates blood lead levels in children are associated with an increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems providing more evidence that there is no safe lead level.
Vaughan JM, Garrett BJ, Prophete C, Horton L, Sisco M, Soukup JM, Zelikoff JT, Ghio A, Peltier RE, Asgharian B, Chen LC, Cohen MD. 2014. A novel system to generate WTC dust particles for inhalation exposures. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 24(1):105-112. [Abstract]
This work describes a new model system to assess health effects in World Trade Center first responder exposures.
Davis DA, Bortolato M, Godar SC, Sander TK, Iwata N, Pakbin P, Shih JC, Berhane K, McConnell R, Sioutas C, Finch CE, Morgan TE. 2013. Prenatal exposure to urban air nanoparticles in mice causes altered neuronal differentiation and depression-like responses. PLoS One 8(5):e64128. [Abstract]
Using a mouse model for prenatal exposure to urban freeway nanoparticulate matter, scientists found prenatal exposure can affect brain development with males exhibiting increased depression-like responses in behavioral tests.
Perera FP, Wang S, Rauh V, Zhou H, Stigter L, Camann D, Jedrychowski W, Mroz E, Majewska R. 2013. Prenatal exposure to air pollution, maternal psychological distress, and child behavior. Pediatrics 32(5):e1284-94. [Abstract]
Scientists studied a birth cohort in the coal-burning region of Poland and found mothers who exhibited psychological distress gave birth to children who were more severely affected by prenatal exposure to air pollution resulting in adverse affects on neurobehavioral development.
West JJ, Smith SJ, Silva RA, Naik V, Zhang YQ, Adelman Z, Fry MM, Anenberg S, Horowitz LW and Lamarque JF. 2013. Co-benefits of mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions for future air quality and human health. Nat Clim Chang 3(10):885-889. [Abstract]
This research used a global atmospheric model that identified air quality and human health co-benefits that exceed abatement costs when actions are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Other Implementation Activities
NIEHS–Japan MOU. A memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) was signed by their respective Directors on August 30, 2017. The agreement calls for the two organizations to work together on mutual activities to improve and extend the Disaster Research Response (DR2) Program efforts.
NIEHS Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Worker Training Program conducted a training event for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and Duke Human Vaccine Institute staff at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) in June. This program helps workers protect themselves, their worksites, and their communities during infectious disease outbreaks such as influenza, Ebola, and new biological threats. CBP officers are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases due to routine contact with travelers from around the world. The session allowed NIEHS to pilot the Pathogen Safety Data (PSD) Guide. The institute developed the resource after conducting a training needs assessment and gap analysis of existing worker training for Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases. Similar sessions have taken place in Long Island City, Bloomington, Indiana; New York City (Manhattan), and Atlanta.
NIH Disaster Research Response (DR2) Program
The DR2 Program is a collaborative effort by NIEHS and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) that aims to improve our nation’s capabilities for performing timely environmental health research in response to emerging threats and disasters. The goals of the DR2 Program focus on various processes and products that support research response including: 1) creating publicly accessible ready-to-go research data collection tools, e.g., surveys, forms, and research protocols, 2) fostering a national network of trained researchers to collect needed data, and 3) conducting workshops, guidance, and training exercises to facilitate, support, and integrate an evolving research community.
National Academies' Standing Committee on Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions
This committee examines and discusses issues on the use of new science, tools, and research methodologies for environmental health decisions. Workshops organized by ESEHD provide a public venue for communication among government, industry, environmental groups, and the academic community about scientific discoveries and advances in methods and approaches that can be used in the identification, quantification, and control of environmental impacts on human health. The ESEHD committee is organized under the auspices of Board on Life Sciences and the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Academies, and sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Research to Action
Research to Action is a program whose purpose is to bring together community members and environmental and occupational health researchers to investigate the potential health risks of environmental and occupational exposures that are of concern to the community. The meaningful involvement of communities in both data collection and translation are vital to the success of this initiative.
Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge
On Feb. 23, NIEHS announced winners of its Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge, naming a first place winner in both the national and local categories, and two second place winners in the local category, with a total of $30,000 in prizes.
The challenge invited innovators and environmental health specialists alike to develop data visualization tools and maps that will help decision-makers and the general public respond to the environmental health risks presented by climate change. NIEHS has posted links to the winning tools on the webpage linked above.
Zika in Infants and Pregnancy Study
Zika in Infants and Pregnancy Study - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz (the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, also known as Fiocruz), a scientific research organization based in Rio de Janeiro, have begun a study to evaluate the magnitude of health risks that Zika virus infection poses to pregnant women and their developing fetuses, as well as infants. The study will begin in Puerto Rico and expand to several locations in Brazil, Colombia, and other areas experiencing active local transmission of the virus.
The Zika in Infants and Pregnancy (ZIP) study aims to enroll as many as 10,000 pregnant women, ages 15 and older, at 15 locations. The participants, who must be in their first trimester of pregnancy when joining, will be followed throughout their pregnancies to determine if they become infected with the virus and, if so, what outcomes result for both mother and child. The infants will be carefully followed for at least one year after birth.
WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Sciences
NIEHS was designated as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Sciences in September, 2013. The Collaborating Centre provides a focal point and resource for the Institute to fulfill its strategic goals in global environmental health. NIEHS will assist WHO by promoting international cooperation among environmental health research institutes around the world; promoting global awareness of emerging issue in environmental health; and supporting education and training efforts in environmental and occupational health sciences. WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Sciences.
WHO Collaborating Centres Network for Children's Environmental Health
The WHO CC Network for Children's Environmental Health (Network) is comprised of more than 10 research institutes around the world. Each acts as a hub to strengthen national or regional capacity to advance children's environmental health. At the same time, collaboration and the sharing of services and expertise among Centres in the Network builds global children's environmental health capacity. The Network's overall goal is to improve children's health by preventing or reducing environmental threats. WHO Collaborating Centres Network for Children's Environmental Health.
Chemical Risk Assessment Network
With support from NIEHS, the World Health Organization inaugurated the Chemical Risk Assessment Network to explore and address the public health risks posed by toxic chemicals. The first meeting, in October 2014, was hosted by the French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health and Safety, and attendees represented more than 55 chemical risk assessment institutions from 29 countries. Working groups developed collaborative plans to address research in biomonitoring, identify high priority research and method development needs, increase and coordinate training efforts for risk assessors, and establish communication between participants.
One Bioregion/One Health
This new framework provides an approach to transboundary regional planning that considers relationships between people and nature in the quest for healthier living spaces. The One Health concept acknowledges that human health is interconnected and dependent on the health of animals and the environment. A bioregion is a territory that is socially and culturally defined by its people rather than borders on a map. Bioregions are shaped by global trends, including climate change, food and water issues, economic crisis, large-scale natural disasters, and widespread increases in preventable diseases. The framework, funded in part by NIEHS and developed by researchers at the University of California-San Diego Superfund Research Center, merges regional planning and ecosystem management as a way to improve public and environmental health. Bioregional planning to improve public and environmental health.
Disaster Research Response Tabletop Exercises
What would happen if a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck Alaska, generating a tsunami that hit the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., stirring up toxic substances from Superfund sites, oil refineries, and sewage treatment plants along miles of coastline? Scientists, community leaders, and state and local health organizations met in Los Angeles April 7, 2014 to discuss this not-so-far-fetched scenario, and to practice incorporating health researchers into immediate response and recovery efforts. Tsunami exercise helps prepare research community for disaster response.
NIEHS and 140 participants and partners reviewed the realistic but fictitious scenario of a Category 4 hurricane hitting Galveston Island and sending a 20-foot storm surge up the Houston ship channel, which is lined with oil tankers, refineries, and neighborhoods. This tabletop exercise, hosted by the NIH Disaster Research Response Project in February 2015, was conducted to explore how participants can collect important health information to support response, recovery and preparedness. NIEHS highlights public health and disaster research at oil spill conference.
Intra-NIH Disaster Interest Group (I-DIG)
This is a partnership between 14 NIH ICs that aims to share timely information to enhance relationships and processes, improve opportunities for collaborations and discussion platforms for actions regarding disaster research.