May 11, 2022


Marissa Baker, Ph.D.

Marissa Baker, Ph.D., University of Washington

Title: Mariner Mental Health and Well-being During COVID-19 and Beyond (1MB)

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the impact work has on mental health, particularly for essential workers. U.S. Mariners are an essential occupation who have continued sailing throughout the pandemic, and many aspects of their work could make them prone to adverse mental health outcomes including spending long periods at sea with limited access to shore leave, limited ability to communicate with home, and often long and physical work hours. Between January and July 2021, an online survey developed in collaboration with MARAD (U.S. Maritime Administration) and CDC was deployed to U.S. Mariners to assess their mental health, barriers to accessing mental health care, concerns, worries, and experiences when sailing during the pandemic, job satisfaction, and safety climate. The survey was completed by 1,384 U.S. Coast Guard-credentialed mariners who had sailed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The prevalence of likely depression and anxiety were 20.7% and 22.7%, respectively, among survey respondents; 8.9% of respondents had feelings of suicidal ideation. Higher mental health outcomes were seen in mariners who identified as female and in younger mariners. Multivariable logistic regression analyses explored potential workplace determinants of adverse mental health. Results from this study will help to prioritize interventions to minimize the mental health impacts of the pandemic in this population and make evidence-based recommendations to improve the mental health of mariners going forward.

EHS Core Center Affiliation: University of Washington, EDGE Center

Michael Petriello, Ph.D.

Michael Petriello, Ph.D., works to uncover the mechanisms of how environmental pollutants affect nutrition and health. (Photo courtesy of Michael Petriello)

Michael Petriello, Ph.D., Wayne State University

Title: Legacy and Emerging Halogenated Pollutants Modulate Gut Microbiota and Accelerate Atherosclerosis (10MB)

Abstract: The gut microbiome is sensitive to diet and environmental exposures and is involved in the regulation of host metabolism. Perturbation of the microbiota (e.g., dysbiosis) is associated with inflammatory diseases including atherosclerosis and diabetes. Exposures to persistent organics such as dioxin-like pollutants occur primarily via ingestion of contaminated foods and are linked to increased risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases. Petriello and fellow researchers previously showed that exposure to a model dioxin-like pollutant (PCB 126) decreases microbiota diversity and accelerates atherosclerosis in mice. They have now utilized past experience with legacy pollutants such as PCBs to investigate the impact of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of halogenated pollutants of emerging concern, on gut microbiota homeostasis and cardiovascular risk. Petriello and fellow researchers recently exposed male and female C57BL/6J mice to water containing a mixture of 5 PFAS representing legacy, replacement, and alternative subtypes (i.e., PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and GenX), for 12 weeks and observed liver injury, increased circulating cholesterol, sterol metabolites, and bile acids due to PFAS exposure, with some sexual dimorphic effects. They are currently exposing hyperlipidemic Ldlr deficient mice who are predisposed to atherosclerosis, to a tertiary PFAS mixture, and will report on changes in gut microbiota, sterols, and bile acids. These studies add to the growing body of evidence that PFAS exposures can increase the risk of cardiometabolic disease.

EHS Core Center Affiliation: Wayne State University, CURES Center