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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News November 2015

Volume 6, Issue 11: November 2015

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NIEHS Grantees Use Statistics to Generate Better Estimates of Air Pollution's Health Effects

In a new video, NIEHS grantee Donna Spiegelman, Sc.D., explains the approach and value of using statistical methods to better understand the health effects of air pollution, research that could provide decision makers with the data they need to establish more protective air quality standards. In the four-minute video, Spiegelman, a professor of epidemiologic methods at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explains some of the challenges of commonly used methods to estimate air pollution exposure. She also highlights findings from a group of studies (see citations list below) in which her research team found that the effects of air pollution on health are underestimated and developed new statistical methods that will allow investigators to use data on exposure measurement error to obtain more accurate estimates of air pollution's health effects.

Spiegelman notes that because collecting data on long-term personal exposure to air pollution can be difficult, studies often rely on measurements from centrally located outdoor air pollution monitors to estimate individual-level exposure. However, using measurements from outdoor monitors as a surrogate for true personal exposure introduces statistical error and uncertainty into epidemiologic studies of the health effects of air pollution.

"Ambient concentrations measured at outdoor monitors represent personal exposure to air pollution constituents with quite a bit of error. The ambient concentrations are linked to individuals' residences, and most people spend a lot of their time away from home. In addition, ambient concentrations fail to account for differences in exposure levels due to time spent indoors." explained Spiegelman.

In an effort to improve individual-level air pollution exposure estimates, Spiegelman and colleagues compiled and examined data from nine exposure validation studies, which relate and compare measurements of personal air pollution exposure to ambient concentrations at outdoor monitors. Specifically, the researchers examined exposure to the air pollutant particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5). They found that, on average, total personal PM2.5 exposure was higher than the ambient concentrations reported by outdoor monitors. "After adjusting for other risk factors for all-cause mortality and correcting for exposure measurement error, we found that each 10 μg/m3 increase in exposure to PM2.5 of ambient origin was associated with a significant 20% increased risk of all-cause mortality," explained Spiegelman. This is nearly double the 12% increased risk estimated using ambient monitors to assess exposure, suggesting that past studies have been underestimating the health effects of air pollution.

"Because current air quality standards have been based on data from ambient monitors, the standards are likely insufficient for achieving their goals for protecting population health. The next time air quality standards are reconsidered, analyses such as these should lead to a lowering of the maximum acceptable levels," said Spiegelman.

On a related note, the NIEHS Harvard Environmental Health Sciences Core Center has created several videos designed to help community members understand how air pollution impacts health. You also can learn more by listening to the PEPH podcast, Air Pollution and Your Heart.


Hart JE, Liao X, Hong B, Puett RC, Yanosky JD, Suh H, Kioumourtzoglou MA, Spiegelman D, Laden F. 2015. The association of long-term exposure to PM2.5 on all-cause mortality in the Nurses' Health Study and the impact of measurement-error correction. Environ Health 14(1):38.[Abstract]

Hart JE, Spiegelman D, Beelen R, Hoek G, Brunekreff B, Schouten LJ, van den Brandt P. 2015. Long-term ambient residential traffic-related exposures and measurement error-adjusted risk of incident lung cancer in the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer. Environ Health Perspect 123(9):860-866.[Abstract]

Kioumourtzoglou MA, Spiegelman D, Szpiro AA, Sheppard L, Kaufman JD, Yanosky JD, Williams R, Laden F, Hong B, Suh H. 2014. Exposure measurement error in PM2.5 health effects studies: a pooled analysis of eight personal exposure validation studies. Environ Health 2014 13(1):2.[Abstract]

Liao X, Zucker DM, Li Y, Spiegelman D. 2011. Survival analysis with error-prone time-varying covariates: a risk set calibration approach. Biometrics 67(1):50-58.[Abstract]

NIEHS Launches Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge

The NIEHS invites you to help decision makers understand and address potential changes in environmental health risks by joining the Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge. The Challenge calls on talented software developers, data scientists, and other innovators from around the country to create data visualizations, tools, and applications, using the best available science on environmental exposures and increases in temperature, precipitation, flooding, and sea level rise. The challenge will award prizes for visualizations, tools, or applications for decision making in two categories: Category 1 for use at the local or municipal level and Category 2 for use at a regional (multistate) or national level. The deadline for submissions is December 4, 2015. For more information, visit the NIEHS Challenge Web page; additional details also can be found in the Federal Register notice. You can also use the hashtag #climatechallengeNIEHS to follow the Challenge!

Presentation Videos Now Available for Interindividual Variability Workshop

From September 30 to October 1, the Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions committee held a workshop on Interindividual Variability: New Ways to Study and Implications for Decision Making. The workshop, sponsored by NIEHS, focused on new ways to study interindividual variability—the heritable and non-heritable factors such as genetics, epigenetics, stress, and diet that can influence the type and degree of response that people may have to environmental stressors—and how decision makers can take this variability into consideration when setting chemical safety regulations. The workshop included presentations from Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program, as well as NIEHS grantees. Visit the workshop Web page to view archived videos and PDF files of presentations from the event.

PEPH Grantee Highlight: Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman is passionate about linking issues of social justice with environmental health sciences. In 2008, Newman joined West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT for Environmental Justice), where she now serves as the director of environmental health. Newman works with her WE ACT colleagues to engage and educate residents of Northern Manhattan on various environmental health issues, such as healthy indoor environments and climate justice. She also collaborates with academic researchers to translate environmental health research findings into meaningful outreach materials for vulnerable communities. For example, she works with the Community Advisory Stakeholder Board of the NIEHS Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health to develop tip cards that feature information about different environmental pollutants and exposures that impact children's health.

Read the Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman Grantee Highlight to learn more about her efforts to help vulnerable communities achieve environmental justice and sustainability!

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Environmental health chat logo

Air quality has a significant impact on our health. With new, low-cost sensor technologies and apps, everyday citizens can monitor air pollution on the go--where they live, work, and play—providing valuable information for individuals and communities, as well as troves of data for scientific research. But how accurate and appropriate are these technologies to meet the goals of the community groups? The Air Quality Monitoring for Citizen Science podcast explores the potential benefits and limitations of next-generation air quality monitors and offers strategies for citizen scientists as they get started.

You can find more podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page or subscribe to the series on iTunes. We want your feedback! Send comments and ideas for future podcasts to

PEPH in the Environmental Factor

The latest issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor features several stories highlighting topics and activities of interest to the PEPH community. Take a moment to catch up with some of the latest projects, events, and activities happening in the PEPH Network:

SRP researchers quickly inform communities near Colorado mine spill. University of Arizona Superfund Research Program scientists provided prompt pubic information after the recent Gold King Mine Spill.

New children's health research projects funded by NIH. New National Institutes of Health funding will support research on how environmental exposures affect children's health and development.

Climate change and environmental exposures challenge announced. NIEHS has challenged innovators to develop tools decision makers can use to prepare for potential health risks posed by climate change.

This month in EHP. The October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives explores environmental influences on children's health.

New Continuing Education Course on Environmental and Occupational Health

Many health care providers do not receive adequate education in environmental and occupational medicine. To help fill this gap, the University of California, San Francisco; the California Department of Public Health; the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program; the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics; and Tulane University developed Taking an Occupational and Environmental Health History , an online, interactive, continuing education (CE) course designed to give health care providers the tools they need to identify and treat problems caused by environmental and occupational exposures. The peer-reviewed, 75-minute course focuses on ways people may be exposed to hazardous substances in their homes, workplaces, and communities. In the course, providers learn three simple questions to help them identify and treat problems caused by environmental and occupational exposures. The CE credits are offered through Tulane University and can be earned through June 30, 2016. Visit the Tulane University Web page for more information and to take the course.

New Behavioral and Social Sciences Book Focuses on Population Health

A new book, jointly produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR), brings together contributions from leading behavioral, social, and medical scientists to summarize what we know and what still needs to be learned about the effects of various behavioral and social factors on longevity, disability and illness, and quality of life, primarily at the population level. Factors such as access to health care, educational attainment, nutrition, physical activity, use of tobacco products, and non-communicable diseases are considered, along with many other determinants of health and longevity. Several chapters focus on improving methods for behavioral and social science research. In addition, many of the authors examine the state of Americans' health and well-being and our return on investment in health care expenditures compared with other developed and developing countries. Visit the AHRQ Web page to download individual chapters or the entire book.

RFI: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Strategic Planning Process

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) is seeking input from interested parties on the development of a five-year strategic plan. NCATS strives to develop innovations to reduce, remove, or bypass costly and time-consuming bottlenecks in the translational science process in an effort to speed the delivery of interventions to patients. NCATS defines translation as the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic, and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public — from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes. In addition to an RFI, stakeholders and community members can provide input via a series of webinars (details on the NCATS Web page). Responses to the RFI must be submitted by January 8, 2016.

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology at UC Berkeley

The Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health (CERCH) at UC Berkeley is offering a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology with a focus on exposure to environmental hazards during pregnancy and childhood. This position will provide two years of protected time to publish papers, develop a research plan, write grants, receive additional training, and prepare to enter the academic job market. The candidate must have completed a Ph.D. or equivalent program recently and have an interest in environmental exposures and maternal and child health. Because this position provides training in both Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health, a specific background in these areas is not required. To Apply: Send a C.V., a cover letter describing your interests, and three names of references to: Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D.,; put "MCH epi postdoc" in the subject line. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental and Social Science at Northeastern University

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Social Science - Environmental Health Collaboration: The Social Science - Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in "Social Science - Environmental Health Collaboration" to start immediately. SSEHRI trains graduate students and postdocs in community-based participatory research aimed at transforming and improving environmental health. The applicant will have completed his/her Ph.D. in a social science or environmental health discipline, have had experience in environmental health research and practice, and be familiar with environmental justice and community-based participatory research. Candidates should send a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, and writing samples (published or unpublished). Three letters of reference, including one from the dissertation advisor should be sent. All materials will go to: Professor Phil Brown ( (For more details about this position, contact Professor Brown.)

Postdoctoral Fellow: Environmental Health Scientist for Transdisciplinary Environmental and Social Science Team. This two-year appointment will be part of the "Transdisciplinary Training at the Intersection of Environmental Health Science and Social Science" Program, co-directed by the Silent Spring Institute and Northeastern University's Social Science - Environmental Health Research Institute. The postdoctoral fellow will spend 2/3 of his/her time at Silent Spring Institute and 1/3 at Northeastern. The candidate should have doctoral training in an environmental health-related discipline, such as exposure assessment, molecular or computational toxicology and biology, environmental chemistry, statistics, bioinformatics, or epidemiology. In addition, the candidate should have an interest in working in a public health context and receiving training in community-based participatory research and the social context of environmental science. See the job posting for more details and to apply.

OSU is Hiring an Assistant or Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health

Oregon State University (OSU) is hiring a full-time, tenure-track assistant or associate professor of environmental and occupational health. Required qualifications include a doctoral degree in public health, environmental health, exposure science, occupational health, or related discipline by the start of employment. At the Assistant Professor level, the candidate must have a clearly defined research agenda and demonstrate potential to support his/her research with extramural funding. At the Associate Professor level, the candidate must have a well-established research program and a record of scholarship, mentorship, and extramural funding. For more information about required and preferred qualifications, responsibilities, and to apply, see the job posting (posting number 0016385). For full consideration, apply by January 25, 2016.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

October 31 - November 4, 2015: American Public Health Association's Annual Meeting & Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. This year's theme is "Health in All Policies." Be sure to refer to the "PEPH at APHA" meeting booklet to quickly find when and where our PEPH Network colleagues are presenting at this year's meeting!

November 2 - 3, 2015: 7th Annual Health Literacy Research Conference (HARC) in Bethesda, Maryland. The HARC is an interdisciplinary meeting for investigators dedicated to health literacy research. Register.

November 9 - 10, 2015: 2015 Community Indicators Consortium Impact Summit in Austin, Texas. The Impact Summit is the premier gathering for those involved in the field of community measurement. Pre-conference workshops also are being offered on November 8 for an additional fee. Register.

November 12, 2015: Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN) Tenth Annual Child Health Advocate Award Reception in Washington, D.C. This event will honor and celebrate key leaders for their efforts to promote safe and healthy environments for all children. The reception will be held on November 12th from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. EST. This year's Science Award will go to Dr. Walter Rogan, NIEHS Epidemiology Branch (retired).

November 17 - 20, 2015: Superfund Research Program Annual Meeting 2015 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The theme for this year's meeting is "SRP Collaboration for Innovation." Register.

December 2 - 4, 2015: Tribal Ecological Knowledge Workshop in Bethesda, Maryland. This workshop will explore the contributions that Native American (NA) and Alaskan Native (AN) tribal communities bring to the research enterprise. Before the two-day workshop, training sessions will be held for workshop participants. The workshop is open to the public; pre-registration is required for both the training sessions (December 2) and two-day workshop (December 3-4).

December 14 - 15, 2015: 8th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Washington, D.C. Registration is now open.

January 12 - 13, 2016: Research to Action (R2A) Grantee Meeting at NIEHS main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The purpose of the meeting is to hear about progress on the existing R01 Research to Action projects and the outcomes of the former R21 projects. The meeting also will include an interactive session to assess the efficacy of the evaluation plans required for these projects. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information!

May 11 - 14, 2016: 14th International Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Save the date for the CCPH conference, which will bring together community partners, faculty members, students, funders, and policymakers to highlight partnerships and research collaborations addressing health equity through social justice.

Funding Opportunities

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

NIMHD Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention (U54). The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) invites applications to establish specialized Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for health disparities research focused on chronic disease prevention, with an emphasis on developing, implementing, and disseminating community-based multilevel interventions. Deadlines: November 16, 2015 (letter of intent); December 16, 2015 (application).

Academic-Community Partnership Conference Series (R13). Encourages Research Conference Grant applications to conduct health disparities-related meetings, workshops, and symposia. The purpose of the FOA is to bring together academic institutions and community organizations to identify opportunities for reducing health disparities through the use of Community-Based Participatory Research. Deadline: November 17, 2015.

Addressing Health Disparities in Maternal and Child Health through Community-Based Participatory Research (Limited Competition R03). Supports community-based participatory research projects planned and developed by recipients of the Phase I Academic-Community Partnerships Conference Series awards under PAR-09-092 and PAR-12-102. Deadline: November 20, 2015.

Household Air Pollution (HAP) Health Outcomes Trial (UM1). Seeks applications from institutions/organizations for a cooperative agreement research grant (UM1) to conduct a clinical trial across three or more Low and Middle Income Country (LMIC) settings to test improved stove and fuel interventions on health outcomes in exposed populations. In addition, each application must include a biomarker center element for the development and validation of clinical, physiological, chemical, biochemical, and/or microbiological markers of (a) exposure and (b) pathophysiological responses. Deadlines: December 1, 2015 (letter of intent); January 19, 2016 (application).

Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Exploratory/Developmental (R21). The mission of CounterACT is to foster and support research and development of new and improved therapeutics to mitigate the health effects of chemical threats. Chemical threats are toxic chemicals that could be used in a terrorist attack or accidentally released from industrial production, storage, or shipping. They include traditional chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and pesticides. The scope of the research includes target/candidate identification and characterization, through candidate optimization, and demonstration of in vivo efficacy. Deadlines: January 26, 2016 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application.

Spatial Uncertainty: Data, Modeling, and Communication (R01). Supports innovative research that identifies sources of spatial uncertainty in public health data, incorporates the inaccuracy or instability into statistical methods, and develops novel tools to visualize the nature and consequences of spatial uncertainty. Deadline: February 5, 2015.

Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R01, R03, R21). Encourages methodological, intervention, and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy. Deadlines: February 5, 2015 (R01); February 19, 2015 (R03, R21). Learn more about NIEHS areas of interest.

Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement. The EPA is seeking applications for EJCPS grants to be awarded in 2016. Cooperative agreements will be awarded to local community-based organizations seeking to address environmental and/or public health concerns in their communities through collaboration with other stakeholders, such as state and local governments, industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations. Deadline: February 12, 2016. See the FY2016 Request for Proposals.

The Open Science Prize. A partnership between the NIH, Wellcome Trust, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Open Science Prize provides funding to encourage and support the prototyping and development of services, tools, or platforms that enable open content – including publications, datasets, codes, and other research outputs – to be discovered, accessed, and re-used in ways that will advance discovery and spark innovation. It also aims to forge new international collaborations that bring together open science innovators to develop services and tools of benefit to the global research community. The challenge consists of a two-phase competition. Deadline: February 29, 2016 (Phase I); see the Web page for the full competition schedule and deadlines. The funders are holding an informational webinar on December 10, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. EST for potential applicants.

International Research Scientist Development Award (K01). The purpose of the International Research Scientist Development Award (IRSDA) is to provide support and protected time to advanced postdoctoral U.S. research scientists and recently appointed U.S. junior faculty for an intensive, mentored research career-development experience in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC) leading to an independently funded research career focused on global health. See the IRSDA Web page for more information. Deadline: March 2, 2016.


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