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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News November 2017

Volume 8, Issue 11: November 2017

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University of Cincinnati Researchers Build Capacity for Student Scientists

The University of Cincinnati (UC) Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) Community Engagement Core (CEC) is partnering with eastern Ohio school districts and teachers to bring environmental health science into the classroom and out to the field. The CEC provides kits that teach students how to collect, sample, and analyze local water. The project rose out of community concerns about the potential effects of the region's natural gas extraction industry on water quality.

students in a lab
Students use kits provided by the CEC to analyze water samples in a ninth-grade science class.

"I hope the students become 'citizen scientists.' I hope they learn the importance of water quality and become more vested in their community. And I hope it instills in them a desire to protect their natural resources," said Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H. in an Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) Journal article. Haynes oversees the project and directs the CEC.

So far, the CEC has provided 120 water testing kits for these student scientists to analyze regional lakes, streams, wells, and tap water. Currently, 2,230 students in grades five through twelve are using the kits, under the supervision of 30 educators. Representatives from the Guernsey County Soil and Water Conservation District, Guernsey County 4-H, Guernsey County Emergency Management Agency, and the Deerassic Park Education Center also have received kits for their student programs.

The students are providing valuable information to their peers, community members, and researchers. They record the latitude and longitude of their samples and then test those samples for temperature, acidity level, and total dissolved solids. Afterwards, they use Google Fusion to map their data to specific locations. If any samples suggest concern for possible contaminants, educators are asked to report to the CEC.

"Once we get more teachers doing this and more students out sampling water, they're going to be able to look on the map and see where water testing is going on in their community and take ownership of the project," said Rachael Shepler, CEC program coordinator, in the OSBA article. "We want students to get excited about the great work they're doing and learn that they can be part of something really important."

The CEC received the 2017 Business Honor Roll Award from the OSBA. Strong community partnerships, including a collaboration with local resident and retired school teacher Rusty Roberts, were instrumental to the success of the project.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

In our latest podcast, hear about the complex environmental and social factors that contribute to environmental health disparities, and learn how NIEHS and NIEHS-funded researchers are working to promote environmental justice for all.

You can find more podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat webpage or subscribe to the series on iTunes. We want your feedback! Send comments and ideas for future podcasts to podcast@niehs.nih.gov.

PEPH Webinars: (1) Wildfires & Human Health and (2) Health Implications of Mountaintop Mining and Coal Ash

Mark your calendars for two upcoming PEPH webinars:

  • On November 17, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST, PEPH will be hosting a webinar focused on wildfires and human health. Please register and join us as presenters discuss how the environmental exposures associated with wildfires affect human health and the approaches being used to develop targeted risk communication about wildfires.
  • On December 12, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST, join us for a webinar focused on understanding the health implications of mountaintop mining and coal ash. Please register and stay tuned for more information.

PEPH Grantee Highlight: Daniela Friedman, Ph.D.

University of South Carolina professor Daniela Friedman, Ph.D., investigates how diverse populations access and interpret information about health risks. Her NIEHS-funded study, part of the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), looks at how African-American women learn about, react to, and process information about breast cancer risk in their environment. "Understanding community needs and cultural contexts is crucial to creating health messages for a specific group," Friedman said. "We can't accomplish anything in public health if we can't figure out the best ways to reach people, and that means working closely with the communities from the start." Read the PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more.

PEPH in the October NIEHS Environmental Factor

Floods, mold, and health – Worker Training Program answers the call. The NIEHS Worker Training Program helps protect the health of workers who are cleaning up from floods and other hurricane damage.

Global Environmental Health Day emphasizes community involvement. The NIEHS Global Environmental Health Day focused on using community-engaged research and citizen science in global health settings.

Hurricane responses build on community connections. NIEHS community connections help protect health after recent hurricanes and reduce environmental health impacts of future disasters.

Unique opportunities to study health effects of arsenic and more. Habibul Ahsan's innovative approaches include building strong community networks to reduce arsenic health impacts in low-resource areas.

Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences for Hurricane Response Research

NIEHS is accepting time-sensitive research applications related to exposures and health outcomes resulting from the recent hurricanes of 2017. NIEHS considers Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to be unpredictable events that provide a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data. Applications should be submitted to RFA-ES-16-005: Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21).

Time-sensitive applications focusing on recent hurricanes will only be accepted on the following receipt dates: November 1, 2017 and December 1, 2017. If you are interested in applying, please contact Martha Barnes (barnes@niehs.nih.gov, 919-541-3336), the program contact for the time sensitives R21s.

The NIH Disaster Research Response (DR2) Program has tools and technical assistance available to researchers and teams interested in disaster research-related work. Please feel free to reach out to DR2@niehs.nih.gov if you have questions or need assistance with finding or building tools, protocols, or IRB issues.

New Chapter in A Story of Health Explores Infertility and Reproductive Health

Follow Reiko and Toshio, a young couple trying to have a child, as they explore the environmental factors that may be contributing to their infertility, along with their options for interventions, in a new chapter in A Story of Health. Produced by NIEHS grantees and partners, A Story of Health is a free online eBook that uses stories of fictional people, their families, and communities to explore the risk factors for disease as well as how to prevent disease and promote health and resilience. This newest chapter is written for health care providers, prospective parents, health advocates, policy makers, and others concerned about environmental influences on reproductive health.

Free continuing education credits are available for A Story of Health, which, in addition to reproductive health, includes chapters on asthma, developmental disabilities, and childhood leukemia. Health care professionals can register for free continuing education credits (CE) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

A Story of Health was developed through a collaboration between ATSDR, the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment (CIRCLE) at the University of California, Berkeley; the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE); the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California EPA (OEHHA); the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN); and the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU).

EPA's Smoke Sense App Now available on iOS

The Smoke Sense app, developed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers to provide users with local air quality and wildfire smoke information, is now available for both Android and iOS devices.

Smoke Sense is a citizen science study that aims to: (1) help determine the extent to which exposure to wildland fire smoke affects health and productivity and (2) develop health risk communication strategies that protect public health during smoke days. Individuals who want to participate in the study can use the Smoke Sense app to learn about wildland fires and smoke health risks in their area, report their health symptoms, and provide information on the range of actions they are able or willing to take to improve their health condition or lower their exposure.

NLM's App Searches for Potential Environmental Health Hazards in Your Community

The National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Tox-App is a free mobile app that lets users search for industrial facilities that have reported releasing certain chemicals into the environment. Tox-App uses data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program and includes a subset of about 100 TRI chemicals for the most current TRI year. Tox-App is based on NLM's TOXMAP and provides some of the basic TOXMAP functions, including the ability to search for reporting facilities; browse for facilities by chemical, state, or county; and view locations of reporting facilities on an interactive map. iOS users can download Tox-App for free from the Apple App Store.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

November 4 - 8, 2017: APHA Annual Meeting & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. This year's theme is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health."

November 20 - 21, 2017Understanding Pathways to a Paradigm Shift in Toxicity Testing and Decision Making in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, this workshop will explore key factors that influence how scientists, policy makers, risk assessors, and regulators incorporate new science into their decisions. The workshop also will be webcast. Please register.

April 7, 2018: Save the date for Women's Health Awareness Day in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Sponsored by the NIEHS Clinical Research Branch, Women's Health Awareness Day (WHAD) is a free community health conference for women of the Triangle area and surrounding counties. WHAD provides health awareness, education, information, resources, and on-site health screenings. Stay tuned for more information about the 2018 event and visit the WHAD webpage to watch the 2017 WHAD recap video.

April 29 - May 2, 2018: Save the date for the 3rd International Conference on One Medicine One Science(iCOMOS) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. iCOMOS will explore new ways to solve pressing health issues, facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations, and promote science's role in influencing public policy at the interface of humans, animals, and the environment. The conference will feature NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. Poster abstracts are being accepted and must be submitted no later than January 15, 2018. A limited number of travel awards will be available for selected abstracts, with preference for students and trainees.

Funding Opportunities

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

Collaborative Minority Health and Health Disparities Research with Tribal Epidemiology Centers (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). The purpose of this initiative is to support collaborative research between Tribal Epidemiology Centers and extramural investigators on topics related to minority health and health disparities in American Indian / Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. Deadline: December 4, 2017.

Addressing Health Disparities through Effective Interventions among Immigrant Populations (R01). Supports innovative research to develop and implement effective interventions to address health disparities among U.S. immigrant populations. Deadline: February 5, 2018.

Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01). Encourages applications using community-engaged research methods to investigate the potential health risks of environmental exposures of concern to the community and to implement an environmental public health action plan based on research findings. Deadline: February 5, 2018. Check out the Research to Action Currently Funded Grantees webpage with project descriptions, which will provide you with a sense of the types of projects supported through this FOA.

Environmental Exposures and Health: Exploration of Non-Traditional Settings (R01, R21). Encourages interdisciplinary research aimed at promoting health, preventing and limiting symptoms and disease, and reducing health disparities across the lifespan for those living or spending time in non-traditional settings (i.e., playgrounds and nursing homes). Deadlines: February 5, 2018 (R01); February 16, 2018 (R21).

Health Disparities and Alzheimer's Disease (R01). Supports research to study health disparities in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders. Health-disparities research related to AD should include the study of biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental factors that influence population-level health differences. Deadline: February 5, 2018.

NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (Parent R13). To support investigator-initiated scientific meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences. Deadlines: December 12, 2017 (application); a letter requesting permission (LRP) to submit a conference application is required and must be received via email no later than six weeks prior to the application due date. See the NIEHS Conference Grant webpage for more information about the types of conferences and meetings the Institute is interested in supporting, as well as LRP guidelines.

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