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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News February 2014

Volume 5, Issue 2: February 2014

PEPH E-News Header

Asthma Health Disparities: NIEHS Grantees Featured in National News Story

There is a growing body of research that examines the connection between a person's health and where they live. Some researchers have been focusing on the prevalence and hospitalization rates of children with asthma, and how it can vary from one neighborhood to the next. A recent NBC Dateline special, "Mold, mice and zip codes: Inside the childhood asthma epidemic," draws attention to the disproportionally high rate of asthma among children living in low-income, urban neighborhoods. The special and an NBC News article about the connection between poverty and asthma feature three NIEHS-funded researchers who examine the environmental contributions to health disparities and consider ways to prevent and reduce environmental triggers of asthma.

Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., a member of the NIEHS and EPA Children's Environmental Health Center at Johns Hopkins University, discussed asthma triggers in the home. In the article, she identified leaky roofs and plumbing, mold and mildew, and mouse and cockroach allergens as common asthma triggers, many of which occur simultaneously in homes in low-income neighborhoods. According to Dr. Matsui, at least 95% of homes in one of the poorest areas in Baltimore have mouse allergens. Although cockroach allergens are a known trigger of asthma symptoms, Dr. Matsui has recently found that in Baltimore, mouse allergen exposure seems to be a more important trigger for asthma symptoms and exacerbations than cockroach allergen exposure. "The importance of controlling indoor exposures as a part of asthma management cannot be overemphasized," she said, "even though we know that home environmental interventions are effective and that their cost is similar to asthma medication, we have few systems in place to provide the resources needed to reduce indoor allergen and pollutant exposures."

Matthew Perzanowski, Ph.D., a member of the NIEHS and EPA Children's Environmental Health Center at Columbia University, traveled to low-income neighborhoods in New York City with the Dateline host to explain why asthma is so prevalent in these communities. As a truck rolls by, Perzanowski explains that truck routes often pass through poorer neighborhoods, exposing residents to high levels of diesel exhaust which can trigger or worsen asthma attacks. Furthermore, vehicle exhaust can readily penetrate people's homes. Perzanowski has found that children living in neighborhoods with higher asthma prevalence have higher levels of air pollution in their homes compared to children living in nearby neighborhoods with lower asthma prevalence. This association was driven by the density of truck routes and buildings burning residual fuel oil in their boilers. Additionally, Perzanowski and colleagues have demonstrated that early life exposure to these combustion related byproducts increased the likelihood of developing an allergy to cockroaches, which is also an exposure that is more common in high asthma prevalence neighborhoods. "With asthma prevalence among 5 year olds ranging from 3 to 19% among neighborhoods in one city, it is critical to understand what environmental exposures drive these vast disparities in risk for asthma," said Dr. Perzanowski, "the combination of diesel associated combustion byproducts and allergens from pests appear to be important."

Tyra Bryant-Stephens, M.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, discussed environmental justice issues surrounding access to physicians in low-income, urban neighborhoods. "Providing optimal asthma care through appropriate medical treatment and elimination of asthma environmental triggers reduces the disparities between the children in these affected communities," said Dr. Bryant-Stephens. In the article she explained that it can be difficult for parents living in low-income neighborhoods to get their children to the doctor, which can lead to poorly managed asthma, and more hospitalizations and trips to the ER for asthma-related problems.

The special, which originally aired on January 5, 2014, is broken up into 6 parts. The 10-minute segments could serve as great resources to increase awareness about the link between asthma and the environment, what to do about asthma triggers in the home, and promote discussions about environmental contributions to health disparities. You can access the videos and the article summarizing the special on the NBC News Web page.

Resources on Asthma and the Environment

Here are some additional resources developed by PEPH grantees that can help you start or continue the conversation about asthma and the environment in your community:

Clean Air Projects : Created by the National Jewish Medical and Research Center , this website is a one stop shop for K-12 education resources about the link between air quality and human health.

Asthma and the Environment Factsheet (in English and Spanish ): Created by University of Michigan Environmental Health Science Core Center, this factsheet explains how the environment can impact asthma.

Visit the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility Asthma Web page for educational materials with tips for addressing environmental asthma triggers. Here are a few examples of the materials you will find there:

Fighting Asthma with... a Healthy Diet? Podcast: This PEPH podcast explores how a healthy diet might help reduce asthma attacks.

Children's Centers Researchers Featured in NPR Story

In a recent NPR story , NIEHS grantees explained their work on the Children's Health and Air Pollution Study - San Joaquin Valley (CHAPS) and what they've found about air pollution exposure and children's health in central California. Kari Nadeau, M.D., Ph.D., Katharine Hammond, Ph.D., and John Balmes, M.D., were interviewed for the story, which gives an overview of their past and current research into whether T-regulatory cells and exposure to the air pollutant PAH play a role in children's risk of allergic disorders, diabetes and, obesity. Their research is being funded through a grant from the EPA-NIEHS Children's Environmental Health Centers program.

Gene-Environment Interaction Contributes to Autism Risk

Exposure to air pollution may increase the risk for autism among people with a specific genetic risk factor, according to a new study funded by NIEHS. Published online in the journal Epidemiology, the study is the first to show a specific interaction between a well-established genetic risk factor and an environmental factor that independently contribute to autism risk. The study is highlighted in two articles in the January 2014 issue of Environmental Factor: one features lead study author Heather Volk, Ph.D., and the second features Cindy Lawler, Ph.D., chief of the NIEHS Genes, Environment, and Health Branch.

Collecting Health Data for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched a new project aimed at improving health data collection for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. While there is a lack of reliable health data for this population, the data available indicates this group experiences significant health disparities. Data collection begins February 2014 and findings will be available in the summer of 2015. To learn more please refer to The Office of Minority Health  website.

EPA Releases Report on Tribal Environmental Research Program

The Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating more than a decade of supporting Tribal Environmental Research through the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program. STAR researchers worked in partnership with tribal communities to better understand and manage toxic chemicals, and other risks that can affect tribal traditional lifestyle, health, and well-being. Several of our PEPH colleagues have been funded through the program. Learn more about program accomplishments and impacts in a newly released report; a summary  is also available.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat on the Exposome

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The "exposome" represents all of the things we're exposed to throughout life, taken together. Some scientists believe studying the exposome could help answer some big questions about what keeps us healthy--and what makes us sick. In a new podcast titled "The Exposome," NIEHS talks to Emory University's Gary Miller, Ph.D., and Yomi Noibi, Ph.D., of the non-profit ECO-Action about what the exposome might mean for science and public health. Stay tuned for our upcoming podcasts! Future topics include citizen science in environmental health and arsenic exposure through food. Find past podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page, or subscribe to the series on iTunes .

PEPH Webinar on Community Resilience

Mark your calendars for the next PEPH webinar, "Residents, Responders, and Resilience," to be held February 25, 2014 from 1-2:30 p.m. ET. We will send out more information and a registration link soon.

Upcoming Events on Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing has the potential to have a lasting impact on our health, environment, and communities. Learn more about this emerging environmental health issue at these upcoming events:

Webinar Series on Impacts of Natural Gas Extraction on Water Resources: The Harvard School of Public Health Research Translation Core (RTC) has partnered with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis to serve as a host for the viewing of the NY Society for Risk Analysis webinar series on the impacts of natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale on water resources. The series will occur each month until June. This month's webinar, "Geochemistry Studies of Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Water Resources in Pennsylvania," will be held February 20, 2014. The public is invited to join the series!

Impact of Unconventional Natural Gas Drilling Operations on the Environment and Public Health Symposium: The Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) and the Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) at the University of Pennsylvania are co-hosting a day-long hydraulic fracturing symposium on February 18, 2014. Discussions will include current research, effects of fracking on health and the environment, and laws affecting it. There is a webinar option if you cannot attend in person. People who register for the webinar receive an email with the link to the webinar and instructions the week of the symposium. Visit the CEET Web page to register and see a draft agenda.

EPA/NIEHS Children's Centers Webinar on Chemicals in Consumer Products

In this month's EPA/NIEHS Children's Centers Webinar five presenters will discuss how exposure to chemicals in everyday consumer products can affect our health. The webinar will be held February 12, 2014 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET.

Upcoming Session Deadlines

It's time to start getting your proposals together for the next American Public Health Association Annual Meeting ! This year's theme is "Healthography: How where you live affects your health and well-being." The meeting will be held November 15-19, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Abstract submissions for the Environment Section are due by February 14, 2014.

The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) 2014 Scientific Committee is now accepting abstract submissions for poster and/or oral presentations. The meeting will be held at the University of Washington in Seattle on August 24-28, 2014. Detailed instructions and the online submission form can be found on the conference website. Submit your abstracts by February 28, 2014!

Upcoming PEPH-Related Meetings

February 13-15, 2014: "New Partners for Smart Growth Conference " in Denver, Colorado. A brochure  highlights those sessions focused on equitable development and environmental justice.

March 5-7, 2014: "Association for Community Health Improvement Conference ," in Orlando, Florida. This year's conference theme is The Critical Role of Community in Moving from Individual to Population Health.

March 26-28, 2014: "National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program ," in Washington, DC, will focus on the needs and challenges of communities, governments, tribes, and other groups with an interest in environmental justice. Register by February 25, 2014.

April 30-May 3, 2014: "Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Conference ," in Chicago, Illinois. Also be sure to check out the preconference workshops.

Funding Opportunities

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

Notice of Intent to publish FOA for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers (P01). The NIEHS and EPA intend to publish a joint FOA to solicit applications for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers. This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects and cores. The FOA is expected to be published in April 2014 with an expected application due date in July 2014.

Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers (EHS CC) (P30). An EHS CC is designed to establish leadership and support for programs of excellence in environmental health sciences by providing scientific guidance, technology, and career development opportunities for promising investigators. An informational webinar focusing on recent changes to the EHS CC program will be heldFebruary 3, 2014 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET. Deadlines: March 22, 2014 (Letter of Intent); April 22, 2014 (Application).

NIH Revision Awards for Creating Virtual Consortium for Translational/Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (ViCTER) (R01). The purpose of the ViCTER program is to foster and promote transdisciplinary collaborations and/or translational research efforts among researchers who have come together in common interest around a particular environmental stressor(s). Deadlines: February 4, 2014 (Letter of Intent); March 4 2014 (Application).

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award (R01). To identify Early Stage Investigators who intend to make a long-term commitment to environmental health research and assist them in launching a research program focused on understanding how environmental exposures affect people's health. Deadlines: February 28, 2014.

Chronic Condition Self-Management in Children and Adolescents (RO1 and R21 ). To encourage research to improve self-management and quality of life in children and adolescents with chronic conditions. Deadlines: February 5, 2014 (R01); February 16, 2014 (R21).

EPA's Environmental Education Grants Program . To support environmental education projects that increase the public's awareness about environmental issues. Deadline: February 4, 2014

Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Funding Opportunity . EPA will fund projects to help communities understand and address exposure to multiple environmental risks at the local level. A pre-application assistance calls will be held on February 5, 2014. Deadline: February 18, 2014.

Translational Research to Improve Diabetes and Obesity Outcomes . Deadline: February 5, 2014.

Interventions for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Native American Populations (R01). Deadlines: April 15, 2014 (Letter of Intent); May 15, 2014 (Application).

Behavioral and Social Science Research on Understanding and Reducing Health Disparities (RO1 and R21 ). Deadlines: February 5, 2014 (R01); February 16, 2014 (R21).

Health Promotion Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Males (RO1 and R21 ). Deadline: February 5, 2014 (R01); February 16, 2014 (R21).


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