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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News December 2017

Volume 8, Issue 12: December 2017

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The Environmental Injustice of Beauty

Women of color may have higher exposure to chemicals found in beauty products than their white counterparts, according to a new commentary published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The authors warn that for women of color, frequent exposure both to chemicals in beauty products and environmental pollutants can add up to adversely impact health.

Commentary co-authors Ami Zota, Sc.D., and Bhavna Shamasunder, Ph.D., say that women of color may use more beauty products than white women because of marketing practices that idealize whiteness and European beauty norms. "Pressure to meet Western standards of beauty means Black, Latina, and Asian American women are using more beauty products and thus are exposed to higher levels of chemicals known to be harmful to health," said Zota, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University (GW), in a GW press release.

According to the authors, beauty products can contain phthalates, parabens, mercury, and other chemicals that have been linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, reproductive harm, and impaired neurodevelopment in children.

For example, the authors note that skin-lightening creams, which may contain mercury, are marketed to women of color. Mercury poisoning, characterized by damage to the kidneys and central nervous system, has been associated with the use of skin-lightening products.

African-American women also experience social pressures to straighten their hair and, as a result, use more chemical hair relaxers and straighteners than other racial groups. Use of these hair products, which contain parabens and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, often begins at an early age, during critical windows of development, say the authors. They point to studies linking use of these hair products to early onset of puberty in African-American girls and increased risk of uterine fibroid tumors among women.

Zota and Shamasunder note that women 18 to 34 years old are particularly vulnerable to beauty product-related exposures because they are heavy buyers, purchasing 10 or more types of beauty products per year. These women and their babies may experience increased susceptibility to negative reproductive and developmental outcomes if beauty products are used during sensitive periods of development, such as before or during pregnancy. "Beauty product use is a critical but underappreciated source of reproductive harm and environmental injustice," said Zota.

The authors also note that low-income and racial minority groups are more likely to live in areas with high levels of environmental pollution from nearby industries, major roadways and heavy traffic, or other sources. "For women who live in already polluted neighborhoods, beauty product chemicals may add to their overall burden of exposures to toxic chemicals," said Shamasunder, an assistant professor in the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College.

To advance environmental justice and reduce potentially harmful exposures, Zota and Shamasunder call on health care professionals to recognize beauty product exposure disparities and to be prepared to counsel patients about these and other environmental exposures. They also urge researchers and health providers to promote health-protective policies, such as improved ingredient testing and disclosure from the beauty product manufacturers.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast

In this podcast, Ami Zota, Sc.D., talks about windows of susceptibility throughout the lifespan and how to prevent potentially harmful exposures to environmental stressors.

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 Webinar: Health Implications of Mountaintop Mining and Coal Ash

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: Lynn Grattan, Ph.D.

For more than a decade, Lynn Grattan, Ph.D., has worked with Native American communities in the Pacific Northwest to study how toxins in seafood affect the brain. Grattan has shaped her research around tribal concerns regarding the possible neurological impacts from consuming above average amounts of Pacific razor clams, a known source of the toxin domoic acid. Results from her research have informed a Washington State Department of Health razor clam consumption advisory to protect the public from long-term exposure to low levels of domoic acid. Read the PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more.

PEPH in the November NIEHS Environmental Factor

Children's environmental health successes. A new report highlights work that improves the environmental health of children and communities.

Cutting-edge exposure science presented at ISES. The International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) meeting in North Carolina featured advances in sensor technology, accounting for differences among people, and community-based strategies to reduce exposures.

Lancet group estimates deaths and economic costs from pollution. The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health linked pollution to 1 in 6 deaths worldwide and to $4.6 trillion in economic costs each year.

Learning from the past, training for the future. Lessons from the Ebola outbreak suggest intensive preparation will be critical to confronting a major epidemic, according to Shawn Gibbs, Ph.D.

New links between prenatal exposures and neurodevelopment. New studies underscore links between exposures a child experiences in the womb and effects on health and well-being later in life.

New Interactive Hub Showcases Community Action for Health Equity

A new resource from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine highlights promising community-driven approaches to advance health equity. Based on the report, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, this interactive hub showcases examples of communities activating strategies to reduce health inequity. In addition, a "what you can do" section provides actions and messages for different sectors, including research, government, businesses, and communities, that can play a part to promote health equity. Explore the new resource to learn more about health equity and some of the promising community-driven approaches being used to improve health and well-being.

Environmental Health Education Modules

In collaboration with NIEHS grantees and partners, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition has developed an environmental health education program called Let's Talk Prevention: Actions You Can Take. The supplemental stand-alone classroom modules are designed to enhance science, health, and environmental studies curricula by providing real-world application of scientific content. The first module was developed in partnership with Silent Spring Institute and helps students learn about sources of toxic exposures in the home, how to reduce exposures, windows of susceptibility, and more. The second module was developed in partnership with the NIEHS-funded PROTECT Center at Northeastern University and covers the basics on drinking water sources, issues related to safe drinking water access, different sources of contamination, and contaminants in drinking water; it also reflects on some current cases dealing with these issues, such as the lead-contaminated tap water in Flint, Michigan.

Videos Now Available for 2017 Children's Environmental Health Symposium

Videos are now available from the April 2017 Children's Environmental Health Symposium, sponsored by NIEHS grantees and partners. The symposium examined the potential factors underlying children's unique vulnerabilities to the cumulative impacts of pollution, socioeconomic, and community stressors.

Watch presenters discuss topics such as the social and environmental factors that drive health disparities, the mechanisms by which stress may impact health, the lifelong consequences of experiencing stress in childhood, how poverty can impact language and executive function development, and more. The event was co-hosted by California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at the University of California, San Francisco; and the NIEHS-funded Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment at the University of California, Berkeley.

Job Opportunity: Community Communications Coordinator in UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

The Community Communications Coordinator will serve as a project communication specialist for two large NIEHS- funded centers, the Center for Exposures, Diseases, Genomics, and Environment (EDGE) and the Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, housed at the University of Washington (UW) Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. These centers facilitate collaboration among many investigators in different areas of research related to gene-environment interactions (EDGE) and the mechanisms of metal neurotoxicity in the context of disease susceptibility in humans and aquatic organisms (SRP Center).

The Coordinator will participate in research translation, community outreach, education, and research support. He/she will work with center investigators to communicate study results to stakeholders with little or no science background, attend meetings and community events, connect center research with community needs, help develop culturally appropriate research translation materials, and develop written communications (e.g., journal articles, literature reviews, meeting summaries, and progress reports).

A master's degree in science policy, environmental health, journalism, public health, education, or a related field, plus a minimum of two years of experience in science journalism covering issues related to health and the environment, is required. See the full job posting to learn more and to apply.

ATSDR Webinar: Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education Programs

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) invites professionals in public health, community planning, licensing, zoning, environmental protection, early care and education, and related fields to join an upcoming webinar to learn about the Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education strategy. Even if early care and education (ECE) facilities, such as childcare or daycare centers, meet current state licensing regulations, they may be located in places where children and staff can be exposed to harmful environmental contamination. Ensuring ECE programs are safely located is vital to ensure the health, economic, and social well-being of the families and staff who rely on them. The webinar will take place December 4, 2017, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST. Registration is required.

CHE and Boston University SRP Center Webinar: Toxic Threats to Children and Teens - Preconception and Prenatal

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) and the Boston University Superfund Research Program (BU SRP) Center are co-hosting an upcoming webinar titled, Toxic Threats to Children and Teens: Preconception and Prenatal. Mark Miller, M.D., a pediatrician who leads the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, will address preconception and prenatal toxic exposures and childhood and later life health effects. He also will discuss prevention approaches and outreach to young people. BU SRP Center researcher Ann Aschengrau, Sc.D., will discuss her study on the linkages between prenatal and childhood exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated drinking water and increased occurrence of risk-taking behaviors as a teenager, including illicit drug use. The webinar will be held December 4, 2017, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST. Please register.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

December 6, 2017: The Future of Environmental Health: Engaged Communities and Strengthened Partnerships (webinar). This webinar is the fourth in the Collaborative on Health and the Environment's series, 20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health. Presenters Megan Latshaw, Ph.D., and Sara Wylie, Ph.D., will talk about engaging communities to better meet their needs, academic-community collaborations, citizen science, and more. (Note that Dr. Wylie was the featured expert in PEPH's Citizen Science podcast.) The webinar will start at 1:00 p.m. EST. Please RSVP.

January 19, 2018: Triangle Global Health Career Day at NIEHS's main campus in Durham, North Carolina. This event will bring students and professionals together to connect, find new opportunities, and build skills for a career in global health.

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 due January 15, 2018. A limited number of travel awards will be available for selected abstracts, with preference for students and trainees.

August 26 - 30, 2018: 2018 ISES-ISEE Joint Annual Meeting in Ottawa, Canada. The meeting theme is: Addressing Complex Local and Global Issues in Environmental Exposure and Health. Abstract proposals are due January 8, 2018.

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). Supports 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.

NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (Parent R13). Supports investigator-initiated scientific meetings; NIEHS is interested in supporting 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 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.

Interactive Digital Media STEM Resources for Pre-College and Informal Science Education Audiences (SBIR) (R43/R44 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Provides opportunities for eligible small business concerns to submit NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications to develop interactive digital media science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources that address student career choice and health and medicine topics for: (1) pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students and pre- and in-service teachers or (2) informal science education (i.e., outside the classroom). Deadline: January 5, 2018.

Interactive Digital Media STEM Resources for Pre-College and Informal Science Education Audiences (STTR) (R41/R42 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Provides opportunities for eligible small business concerns to submit NIH Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant applications to develop interactive digital media science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources that address student career choice and health and medicine topics for: (1) pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students and pre- and in-service teachers or (2) informal science education (i.e., outside the classroom). Deadline: January 5, 2018.

Summer Research Experiences for Students and Science Teachers (Admin Supp). For NIEHS-funded principal investigators with R01, R21, R15, R35, R37, or P01 awards, funds are available for administrative supplements to support summer research experiences in environmental health science for high school students, college undergraduates, master's degree candidates, medical students, secondary school science teachers, and science professors from Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) grant-eligible institutions. Administrative supplements must support work within the scope of the original project. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Addressing Health Disparities through Effective Interventions among Immigrant Populations (R01 Clinical Trial Optional). 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 Clinical Trial Optional). 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 and R21 Clinical Trail Optional). 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).

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